BEIJING – According to local media reports on May 1 citing people familiar with the matter, Zhu Yanfeng, current deputy party secretary of Jilin Province and former president of FAW Group, has been appointed as the new chairman of Dongfeng Motor Corp.
Zhu replaces Xu Ping, who heads to FAW Group as the new chairman, replacing Xu Jianyi, who was taken away by authorities in March for violating Party discipline and national laws.
The “executive swap” is expected to be officially announced by the Organization Department of the Central Committee of the CPC, which oversees executive appointments at centrally administered state-owned companies, after the May 1 Labor Day holiday break.
If confirmed, the executive shuffle maybe the biggest in the history of the Chinese auto industry as it involves the heads of the only two centrally administered state-owned automakers, and comes on the heels of anti-corruption investigations at the two companies.
Zhu was president of FAW Group from 1999 to 2007, before leaving the post to become deputy governor of Jilin Province and later deputy party secretary. Zhu’s successor Xu Jianyi became chairman of FAW Group in 2010 after holding the president position for three years.
Xu Ping, on the other hand, has been with Dongfeng his entire career. He was president from 2005 to 2010 and chairman since then.
“For Zhu, the opportunities at Dongfeng outweigh challenges as Dongfeng has become a much more market-oriented company. But for Xu, it will be the opposite because FAW as the cradle of China’s auto industry has wasted its vast resources,” commented Dr. Wayne Xing, founder and honorary chief editor of China Automotive Review and a 20-year industry observer.
Industry experts also believe that the executive change may foreshadow the integration of state-owned automakers.