Li tackles port plans
PREMIER Li Peng is in Shanghai to arbitrate between rival blueprints for vital port development in the region.
Sources said authorities in Zhejiang province and Shanghai were pushing competing projects that would form the transport hub for the eastern coast and the Yangtze River estuary.
The former is lobbying Beijing for investment to expand the port of Beilungang in northern Zhejiang, while the latter favours developing the port at Liuhe, on the border between Shanghai and Jiangsu province.
The sources said the natural features of Beilungang were far superior to those of Liuhe.
However, they said the so-called Shanghai Faction might have a chance because of its rising influence in Beijing politics.
Recently, a large number of cadres - including President Jiang Zemin, National People's Congress Chairman Qiao Shi, vice-premiers Zhu Rongji and Qian Qichen, and leftist party elder Deng Liqun - made visits to the city.
Mr Li, who was briefed by the municipal leadership yesterday, also discussed Shanghai's Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000) and the 15-year blueprint (1996-2010).
Mr Li and his colleagues in the State Council are anxious that, in return for the latest round of preferential treatment granted Shanghai and its new zone of Pudong, the metropolis should make commensurate contributions to central funds and to 'the next stage of the open door policy'.
Political analysts in Shanghai said Mr Li also went over proposals for personnel changes that would be endorsed at the forthcoming municipal people's congress.
Two vice-mayors, Sha Lin and Xie Lijuan, are due to step down because of their age.
'Li Peng is doing his part to smooth the personality conflict between Shanghai party boss Huang Ju and Mayor Xu Kuangdi,' a Western diplomat said.
He also played a role in resolving the conflict between Mr Xu, a protege of Vice-Premier Zhu, and the outgoing chief of Pudong, Zhao Qizheng.