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China Unicom Chairman and Chief Executive Wang Xiaochu was dropped from the latest list of Chinese Communist Party congress representatives. He was on a tentative roster and the Unicom website still names him as chairman.   © Reuters
Politics

China Unicom chief failed to qualify as congress representative

Wang Xiaochu's name was dropped from list of delegates

BEIJING -- Chairman and Chief Executive Wang Xiaochu of China Unicom, one of three major state-controlled telecom operators, has failed to qualify as a representative at the ruling Communist Party's key congress, held every five years.

Wang's name was not on the final list of some 2280 representatives attending the congress in Beijing, according to a recent report by official mouthpiece Xinhua news agency. However, his name was on a tentative list of representatives released earlier this year.

Wang did not show up at the delegation meeting of major Beijing-based state-owned enterprises, held at the Great Hall of the People, on Wednesday afternoon.

A China Unicom representative said that Wang has attended the opening ceremony of the congress as a non-voting member.

China Unicom's website still lists Wang as its chairman, but failure to become a party representative does not bode well for the future of any politician or business leader.

Shares in the company's Hong Kong-listed unit China Unicom (Hong Kong) closed 0.35% lower at 11.34 Hong Kong dollars on Wednesday.

The congress is set to amend the party constitution to incorporate Chinese President Xi Jinping's political directives and kick off a top leadership reshuffle for him to appoint his close allies to key party positions.

Wang arrived at China Unicom from China Telecom in 2015 by swapping positions with Zhang Xiaobing. Zhang, who took over China Telecom from Wang, was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption in May.

China Unicom is undergoing an organizational shakeup amid government efforts to revitalize state-owned enterprises with an injection of private capital and reform the entities via the mixed-ownership scheme.

The second largest Chinese mobile carrier by subscribers announced in August that it plans to sell a 35.2% stake to 14 companies to raise 78 billion yuan ($11.6 billion).

China Daily reported in late August that the sales plan, however, could breach the regulations that cap private placement at 20% of outstanding shares.

The meeting of SOE delegates took place after the keynote speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping to present his blueprint for the country in his second term. The meeting touched upon SOE reforms, although most comments made by delegates were vague.

At the end of the meeting, members of state media were allowed to ask questions. Apart from them, only a Reuters reporter managed to pose a question, about possible mergers and bankruptcies in the SOE sector.

Although many discussions were open to non-Chinese media, giving the impression of openness, state media typically dominate these events. At a separate discussion of Hainan Province held at the same time, all seven questions to local government leaders were asked by state media, including People's Daily, China Central Television, and Xinhua, along with Hong Kong's mainland mouthpiece Ta Kung Pao.

Nikkei Asian Review Business and Market editor Kenji Kawase in Beijing contributed to this story.

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