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Jiang Jr. emerges from father's shadow

Jiang Zemin
President Jiang is said to use his son as an adviser on a range of policy issues  

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- President Jiang Zemin's appearance with his son, Dr Jiang Mianheng, at the Fortune Forum in Hong Kong Tuesday will confirm the clout of a man many in Beijing call a rising star in Chinese politics.

Chinese sources in Beijing and Hong Kong say the younger Jiang has become a key adviser to his father on issues ranging from high technology to foreign investment.

"Jiang Mianheng will be seeing top foreign businessmen, including Taiwan executives, in Hong Kong," said one Chinese source. Asia
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"He hopes to persuade them to invest in Shanghai and also the western provinces."

Dr Jiang, 48, who has a doctorate in physics from America's Drexel University, is a vice-president of the state-run Chinese Academy of Sciences.

He also has ties to large Internet-related businesses in Shanghai.

Last year, Dr Jiang helped put together a Shanghai-based joint venture with Winston Wang, the son of Taiwan tycoon Y.C. Wang.

The elder Wang has been instrumental in pushing Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian to relax restrictions on Taiwan investments in the mainland.

A Western diplomat said President's Jiang's decision to take his son along to Hong Kong showed the 74-year-old top cadre was confident of his own powers as well as his son's abilities.

"It is rare for Chinese leaders to appear in public with their children -- and even rarer for them to go on trips together," the diplomat said.

In defense of his decision in late 1999 to ask his son to take up the vice-ministerial position at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jiang reportedly said that late patriarch Deng Xiaoping had also appointed his daughter Deng Nan as a vice-minister of science and technology.

Chinese network

The diplomat added that given Dr Jiang's long stay in the United States -- from 1986 to 1992 -- his advice was frequently sought by his father on relations with the U.S., particularly in areas involving trade and hi-tech exchanges.

In a speech in Shanghai last year, Dr Jiang raised eyebrows when he attacked what he called the Western "monopoly on information resources and related industries".

"China must build a network that is independent of the Internet," he added.

Analysts said, however, that Dr Jiang would keep a low profile in Hong Kong and restrict his activities to interactions with foreign and Taiwan businessmen.

They added given his exposure to different portfolios and his knowledge of the U.S. and Taiwan, Jiang the younger might be a candidate for promotion at or soon after the 16th Communist party Congress late next year.

The 16th congress is expected to confirm the elevation of a dozen-odd sons of party elders, including the Governor of Liaoning province Bo Xilai and the Governor of Fujian province, Xi Jinping.

About 20 senior State Council officials and regional leaders will also be appearing at the Fortune Forum.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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