Changes at the top for two provinces
Government leaders will be elected by the people's congresses in Guangdong and Fujian, which open annual meetings tomorrow.
A number of provincial government officials are expected to step down or be replaced at the end of the two congresses.
Meanwhile, parallel meetings of the People's Political Consultative Conference opened in the two provinces yesterday.
In Fuzhou, Consultative Conference Chairman You Dexin opened the new session. Provincial Communist Party Secretary Chen Mingyi and Governor He Guoqiang attended the opening ceremony.
In his speech, Mr You said the new session carried special significance. 'There are important issues that deputies to this new conference must face - how are we going to enter the 21st century? And what sort of a new era or start do we want?' Mr You told the 600 delegates.
He said 1998 would be a crucial year for mainland reforms especially following the 15th Communist Party Congress last September.
He called on conference members to do a better job this year in supervising the Government and to serve as a bridge between the public and the administration. In addition, he said the deputies could play a more active role in liaison between Fujian, Taiwan and Hong Kong and promote national unification.
Speaking in a discussion meeting with conference representatives from Hong Kong yesterday, Mr Chen said the convening of the Fujian People's Congress and the Political Consultative Conference was significant this year.
Deputies would decide the development direction of the province and elect a new group of leaders.
Chen Rongchun, the former Chinese leader of the Hong Kong Chinese-British Land Committee, was expected to be appointed a vice-chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference in Fujian.
In Guangzhou, Consultative Conference Chairman Guo Rongchang presided over the opening of the session. The China News Service said Mr Guo delivered a report summarising achievements of the past five years.
Si Zhiguang, an organiser for the People's Congress in Guangdong, yesterday said only 154 of the 759 deputies to the body were incumbents. Unlike previous years, there are no deputies representing Hong Kong in the Guangdong congress.