China names Wu Hangsheng to head new social work department tasked with handling public grievances

Beijing has appointed a cadre with vast experience in the Communist Party’s personnel affairs and administrative work as head of a new party organ to handle public grievances and strengthen the party’s grip in society and business.

Wu Hansheng, 60, former executive deputy secretary of the Central and State Organs Working Committee of the Communist Party Central Committee, was appointed head of the Social Work Department of the Central Committee.

The appointment was made public on Saturday, after Wu appeared with his new title on Friday while presiding over a training session graduation ceremony for provincial officials.

Beijing set up the Social Work Department under the party’s powerful Central Committee in March in an attempt to centralise its control over all non-public sectors and grass-roots organs.

A key responsibility of the department is to “coordinate and guide” the handling of petitions from the public and the soliciting of public opinion.

It will also lead the work of industry federations, improve the governance of grass-roots communities in urban and rural areas and set up party organs in private companies and other social organisations.

Since the department was announced in March, analysts have been watching to see who will head the body, which has been deemed a crucial vehicle to expand the party’s control in all aspects of society and to address public grievances before they reach a point that may threaten social stability.

Wu, a Shandong province native, began his political career as a technology intelligence officer at the Ministry of Machine Building and Electronics Industries after graduating from Jilin University of Technology, where he majored in internal combustion engines.

In April 1991, he became a human resources staff member at the Central Party and State Organs Working Committee, where he worked for nearly two decades.

He made a career breakthrough in 2010 when he was among 66 central government cadres shortlisted to rotate between regional roles – a sign of further promotion for officials. He was subsequently posted to various roles in Liaoning and Shanxi provinces between 2010 and 2018.

He was called back to the Central Party and State Organs Working Committee in December 2018 and became executive deputy secretary of the committee in May 2022.

Five months later, he was elected as a member of the party’s elite Central Committee.

Many have watched to see where Wu would go next after stepping down from his role on the Central Party and State Organs Working Committee in April.

In May, he appeared at a seminar about the first two volumes of the selected works of President Xi Jinping.

Wu was seen seated with top ideological officials, including Jiang Jinquan, director of the party’s policy research office, and Hu Heping, executive deputy chief of the party’s Publicity Department, according to footage from state broadcaster CCTV.

(Courtesy : SCMP)