Wu   Bangguo

Wu Bangguo

Chairman, National People’s Congress of China

Date of Birth: 1941

Second in command of China’s Communist Party Wu Bangguo has just completed a tour of Algeria, Gabon, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Seychelles from 3-14 November 2008. He visited the allies in rough order from oldest to newest. With Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Wu talked up infrastructure and energy. He proposed a trade and economic zone. Then he spent two days in Gabon discussing minerals and power with President Omar Bongo Ondimba.

Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi welcomed Wu’s call for further agricultural and anti-poverty programmes. Wu proposed hydropower works and an industrial zone for Chinese companies. He met Jean Ping, the Gabonese Chairman of the African Union Commission, and the two men attended the opening of the AU’s new Chinese-financed US$150 million conference and office complex.

In Madagascar, Wu emphasised China’s plan to use local labour for several energy and agriculture projects discussed with President Marc Ravalomanana. Finally, in Seychelles, Wu assured President James Michel that the global credit crisis would not affect China’s plans to increase funding.  

Despite the financial panic, Wu was able to reiterate Beijing’s commitment to its pledges at the 2006 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Expectations are high for the next FOCAC summit, to be held in Egypt in 2009, and Wu was an honoured guest. There were few signs of the nervousness that dogged President Hu Jintao’s visit last year during the unrest in Zambia’s Copperbelt over Chinese mining companies’ treatment of local workers.

From Anhui province, Wu is an engineer who ascended the party ranks via its Shanghai branch. Rising to the CCP Central Committee alongside Hu in 2003, Wu’s was then appointed Chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. Some dismiss the NPC as a rubber-stamp legislative body; but, its Standing Committee plays a key role in promulgating new laws. Following China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2001, there has been a plethora of new commercial rules and statutes.

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