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Academics increasingly joining govt

Updated: 2016-03-28 09:03
By Cao Yin (China Daily)

Officials with an academic background are set to become a mainstay of political life in China, experts said after the central leadership appointed a senior economist as the head of Henan province over the weekend.

Xie Fuzhan, who has won Sun Yefang Economics Prize-the top national prize for economics-twice, was named as Party chief of Henan on Saturday, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xie had been the provincial governor for three years before he replaced the 66-year-old Guo Gengmao in the Party role. Ministry-level officials generally retire at age 65.

Xie has a bachelor's degree in computer science and a master's in industrial automation, as well as a national-level technological award.

He started his political career in the 1990s at the Development Research Center of the State Council. During his 10 years there, he spent time in the United States as a visiting scholar.

Zhu Lijia, a professor of public administration at the Chinese Academy of Governance, welcomed the appointment, saying Xie is not the first person with a strong academic background to be appointed as a high-ranking official in China over the past few years.

On Feb 26, Ning Jizhe, a well-known government think tank economist, was named the new head of the National Bureau of Statistics. He has also been a deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body, since August last year.

In January 2015, Chen Jining, who was president of Tsinghua University and a professor at its School of Environment, was named head of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Then, 10 months later, Chen Yulu, a professor of economics and the then-president of Renmin University of China, was appointed deputy governor of the People's Bank of China.

"Appointing officials with fabulous educational and academic backgrounds is a way of facing the current complex economic situation at home and abroad, as well as effectively solving thorny problems brought up by the country's reforms," Zhu said on Sunday.

"The more knowledge officials have, such as in law, economics and politics, the better the policies will be," he said, adding that it had become a trend to name as officials people "who have achieved in the professional sphere and have abilities in handling difficulties brought by reforms".

Yang Weidong, another law professor at the academy, agreed but said that putting knowledge and academic studies into practice is an important lesson that some officials must learn after they take office.

In addition to professional achievements, all these appointed officials have administrative work experience and know how to manage or govern a university or department, Yang said.

"All in all, they understand how to transfer their knowledge to policies. It is this ability that the central government most needs," he said.


Xie Fuzhan, a native of Central China's Hubei province, was born in August 1954.He started working for the Development Research Center of the State Council in 1986 and became head of the central government think tank in 1995.He became the head of the National Bureau of Statistics in 2006.

Two years later, he was named the director of the Research Office of the State Council. He was named deputy Party chief of Henan province in March 2013 and was appointed governor of the province one month later.

Xie won the top national prize for economics in 1991 and 2001, as well as being awarded the second prize in the National Award for Progress in Science and Technology in 1996.

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