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
Vol 47 N0 14
AFRICA | CHINA