Shock Beijing posting for Shanghai mayor

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 December, 2001, 12:00am

Shanghai mayor Xu Kuangdi has been posted to Beijing in a surprise move seen by some analysts as part of the jockeying for position expected within the Communist Party next year.

Mr Xu was named party chief of the China Academy of Engineering - a move described by a government official as 'not a demotion', although it clearly was not the top-level political job many had expected for him.

But some analysts suggested it could be a holding position ahead of the final parcelling out of new posts at the 16th Party Congress next autumn.

Mr Xu, 64, has been succeeded by deputy mayor Chen Liangyu, who is now acting mayor, according to the Shanghai Government Web site and local television.

Mr Xu has long been a favourite of foreign businessmen, who have praised his open style and his rare combination of political skills and strong academic background.

Long considered one of the mainland's brighter stars, he was informed of the move while in Paris promoting Shanghai's candidacy to host a major international gathering, World Expo 2010.

'This has been under discussion for the last one or two months,' said the official. Mr Xu, who only joined the Communist Party in his 40s, became mayor in 1995. His term would have expired next year.

He has been a strong ally of Premier Zhu Rongji, who backed his candidacy for mayor.

There have been reports of friction between the mayor and Shanghai party chief Huang Ju, a protege of President Jiang Zemin.

The Government Web site said there had been meetings of government and party officials, leaders of business associations and democratic groups to discuss the appointments.