Shanghai official in running for senior government job
The vice-mayor of Shanghai, Zhao Qizheng, is being considered for a senior central government posting, according to diplomats in the city.
Mr Zhao, 57, is being tipped to head either the Foreign Affairs Office or the Information Office of the State Council.
One of the key roles of the Foreign Affairs Office is to co-ordinate the diplomatic and national security functions of different government departments.
If Mr Zhao did receive his posting, the diplomats said, he would move to Beijing shortly after the National People's Congress in March.
A native of Beijing, Mr Zhao has served in many senior positions in Shanghai, including heading the municipal organisation department.
Considered close to top contender for premier Zhu Rongji, Mr Zhao played a key role in developing Pudong into a national pace-setter for the open-door policy.
A noted reformer, Mr Zhao has also earned high marks with foreign businessmen for his pragmatic approach to economic policy.
An Asian diplomat said Mr Zhao would help Mr Zhu to build a team of foreign-policy experts.
A source in Beijing has confirmed that Vice-Premier Qian Qichen would remain Foreign Minister for the foreseeable future.
There had been suggestions that senior Vice-Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan would be promoted to the senior position in March.
Analysts said Mr Tang's promotion would probably be delayed by a year.
Re-elected to the Politburo in September, Mr Qian's portfolio includes Hong Kong and Taiwan.