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The Rise of a New Tsinghua Clique in Chinese Politics

Apr 27 , 2015

Since Xi Jinping took power in November 2012, a new Tsinghua Clique has risen in Chinese politics. In contrast to members of the old Tsinghua Clique, who just happened to be graduates of the same university (such as Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Huang Ju, and Wu Guanzheng), members of the new Tsinghua Clique have strong personal ties with one another.

A key member of the new Tsinghua Clique is Chen Xi, executive deputy director of the Central Organization Department. A native of Fujian, Chen went to Tsinghua University along with Xi Jinping in September 1975 as a Worker-Peasant-Soldier student (gongnongbing xueyuan). Chen and Xi were enrolled in the same department — the Department of Chemical Engineering — with different majors. Chen majored in materialization, and Xi in basic organic synthesis. The two reportedly were roommates for three and a half years, and Xi recruited Chen as a CCP member in November 1978.

After Xi became a member of the Politburo Standing Committee in charge of personnel affairs in October 2007, Chen was quickly promoted from Tsinghua University to the Ministry of Education as a vice minister and deputy party group secretary. Chen was transferred to Liaoning as deputy party secretary in less than two years and was promoted again in seven months to the rank of full minister as the party group secretary of the China Association for Science and Technology, replacing Deng Nan (daughter of Deng Xiaoping).

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