Born in 1955 in Liaoning province, Wang Yong graduated from Harbin Institute of Technology. He may not be a household name, but he is hitting the headlines in his fifties, having replaced Li Rongrong as the new head of Sasac. He made his first official appearance in front of the media shortly before Christmas.
One of the world’s biggest jobs?
We’ve written before that Sasac oversees a pretty daunting portfolio of companies. Imagine waking up each day to ownership stakes in Boeing, Ford, ExxonMobil (plus ConocoPhillips and Chevron), as well as American Airlines (Delta and United too), US Steel, Verizon and AT&T. Then throw in the power producers, the national electricity grid, a dozen or so nuclear reactors, a heavy-duty bunch of industrial firms and its top defence manufacturers. Oh, and make some space for NASA.
The Chinese media reckons that all adds up to at least $1.9 trillion in annual revenues. Which is more than enough for Forbes magazine to place Wang 62nd in the “World’s Most Powerful People” rankings last year (two above Oprah Winfrey, and five down from Osama bin Laden, if you’re counting).
So he’d need to be rather well qualified?
His CV does look pretty well rounded. He’s worked in senior roles at an SOE himself – the China Aerospace Corporation – and he knows Sasac well having served as Li Rongrong’s Deputy Director from 2003 to 2008. In 2008 he was parachuted into the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine after a series of food safety scandals and seems to have survived what is (figuratively and literally) a poisoned chalice of a role. He’s also a member of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (the elite group tasked with rooting out corruption amongst senior Party cadres).
Will he do anything differently to Li Rongrong?
Like all good civil servants, Wang has been talking up the continuity in his role, as Sasac continues with its restructuring mandate under the 12th Five Year Plan.
Some of the priorities are new ones, however. For instance, more is expected of the leading SOEs in overseas markets than in the past, and the Chinese newspapers are reporting that Wang has already asked the top bosses to speed up their “going out” pace in establishing more of an international presence. One obstacle: a shortfall in personnel experienced outside the Chinese market, which will be another priority for Wang to address.
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