Guo Ningning does what it takes to get results. For an April 2020 campaign to promote local seafood, the vice governor of China’s southern Fujian province appeared on a livestreaming show, where she feasted on a plump eel. The broadcast attracted more than 1 million viewers, prompting year-over-year eel sales to soar by 628%.
Guo has proved herself equally adept in the slippery world of Chinese politics. She is a rare female rising star of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), whose elevation to No. 2 in Fujian—where President Xi Jinping cut his leadership teeth and retains a power base—signals the possibility of further growth. As a former vice president of the influential Agricultural Bank of China, she is also emblematic of the CCP’s new efforts to promote cadres with financial expertise—in June, she enacted a new policy to provide underprivileged children with a basic living allowance and access to education and scholarships. “Fujian’s cuisine is famous all over the world,” Guo told the livestream audience last April. Someday, perhaps she will be too. —Charlie Campbell