China today announced a series of Cabinet-level changes to be approved when the National People's Congress begins meeting here Saturday and said foreign diplomats' and journalists would be allowed to attend some sessions of the congress for the first time in two decades.
New China News Agency chief Zeng Tao, briefing foreign journalists in his capacity as deputy general secretary of the Congress' standing committee, said Wang Li, a close adviser to party Vice Chairman Deng Xiaoping, would become head of the state agricultural Commission. He also said the finance minister will be replaced because of age and the petroleum minister replaced because of his involvement in a cover-up of a offshore oil rig accident that killed 72 persons last year.
Zeng's most important disclosures may have been about two positions that will not change hands. He said Ye Jianying, 82, will remain as chairman of the congress standing committee and Xu Xiangqian, 78, will remain as defense minister. Xu is in poor health and is scheduled to give up his vice premier's post, so the decision to retain him indicates that top leaders cannot resolve serious disagreements about who is to be the next defense minister.
Communist Party Chairman Hau Guofeng, who is scheduled to give up his premier's post at the congress, has been reportedly courting Army support to halt the erosion of his power at the hands of Deng supporters. Zeng said Hua will not give a government work report, but will give an "important speech" on the government's future tasks and the shuffle of positions, presumably including his own.
Zeng said a state energy commission will be created with Yu Qiuli as head. His position as head of the state planning commission will go to Yao Yilin.
The new finance minister will be Wang Bingqian. Wan Renzhong, the outgoing agricultural commissioner, will retain his post in the party secretariat.