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Leading Chinese car engineer given provincial leadership role in Hubei

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A prominent motor engineer has been promoted to the leadership of a central Chinese province as Beijing seeks to install more cadres with science and technology background in key positions of power.

Shao Xinyu, who was made a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering for his research achievements, has been appointed to the standing committee of Hubei’s provincial Communist Party committee, the newspaper Hubei Daily reported on Thursday.

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Shao, 55, was named a vice governor of Hubei last year. The latest appointment makes him the only one among the province’s seven vice governors to sit on the top decision-making body.

Shao, whose research has been widely applied to car, aircraft and ship manufacturing, previously served as vice minister of science and technology from 2021 to 2022.

Previously, he was head of the school of mechanical engineering at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, where he led the development of a number of technological innovations. These include high-powered laser equipment and production lines for car bodies, as well as a digital optimisation platform for vehicle and engine manufacturing.

He became the university’s party secretary in 2017 and was elected as a member of the engineering academy two years later.

Shao’s promotion comes as the leadership is appointing more cadres with strong science and technology backgrounds to senior positions as China engages in an intensifying technological contest with the West.

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At last year’s Communist Party congress, at least six officials with a science background, in fields ranging from rocket science to public health, were promoted to the 24-member Politburo, the highest decision-making organ of the party.

These include Ma Xingrui, former chief of the China National Space Administration and commander of China’s first unmanned lunar mission, who was made Xinjiang’s party chief.

A former colleague of his, Yuan Jiajun, who designed the country’s Shenzhou spacecraft, is now Chongqing’s party chief.

Chen Jining, an environmental scientist, has a similar role in Shanghai, while Yin Li, a former vice chairman of the World Health Organization, is Beijing’s party chief.

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Zhang Guoqing, a veteran of the defence industry, has become a vice premier and Li Ganjie, a nuclear safety expert, is responsible for the Organisation Department of the Communist Party.

In addition, the Communist Party’s 205-member Central Committee includes 29 members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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