Zhang is considered a “princeling” because he is the son of a former army major general. Since 2008, Zhang, 66, has been vice premier in charge of telecommunications, energy and transportation. Critics have faulted his response to the 2011 Wenzhou high-speed train crash that killed 40 people, saying he rushed the trains back into service.
Often called “the chief of the fire brigade,” Wang Qishan has a reputation as a competent hand in times of crisis. With a background in banking, he has served as vice premier in charge of economics and finance and as special envoy to the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
Wang, 64, has a “wicked sense of humor” and is “decisive and inquisitive,” according to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson. In October 2012, he was named one of Bloomberg’s 50 most influential people.
A history major in college, Wang held senior posts in the 1990s at the China Construction Bank and China’s central bank, where he helped manage a major debt crisis at Chinese financial institutions.
Liu Yunshan has a long history with the Communist Party’s propaganda branch, dating back to his days in Inner Mongolia in the 1970s and ’80s, when he worked as a writer for the state-run New China News Agency. For the last 10 years he’s been head of the Propaganda Department, strongly involved with China’s efforts to keep domestic media on a short leash and censor the Internet.
Liu, 65, presided over a multibillion-dollar effort to expand the reach of China’s state-run media overseas, including the opening of China Central Television branches in the United States and Africa and the launch of an American edition of the China Daily newspaper.
Zhang Gaoli, born in 1946, spent his early career in the oil industry before joining government in the mid-1980s and working his way up the ladder in Guangdong province. From 1997 to 2001, he served as party chief in the southern metropolis of Shenzhen, the first of China’s special economic zones, which he helped make into a showcase for China’s shift toward a market economy.