Steering Shanghai's rapid rise was pinnacle for 'faithful fighter'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 June, 2007, 12:00am

Huang Ju steered China's economy as vice-premier. As the leader of the mainland's commercial capital, where he began his career, he brought Shanghai out of a decades-long slumber.

His death at age 68 is another blow to the 'Shanghai Gang' led by former president Jiang Zemin , which shares power with the administration of President Hu Jintao, following the sacking of Shanghai party secretary Chen Liangyu for corruption in September.

Huang proved to be more of a survivor, both in terms of his health and political career, than many had expected. Despite being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February last year, he succumbed only yesterday.

While in Shanghai, he survived a land scandal involving property developer Chau Ching-ngai and defied doubts to become a member of the politburo's powerful Standing Committee in 2002 and vice-premier holding the key economic and financial portfolio in 2003. Chau is now under arrest again after serving a previous jail term for financial crimes.

Huang's family has also been linked to Zhang Rongkun, the entrepreneur at the centre of another scandal involving alleged misappropriation of Shanghai's pension fund.

Serving as Shanghai mayor from 1991 to 1995 and party secretary from 1994 to 2002, Huang delivered rapid development, which turned the city into an economic powerhouse.

He didn't shine as brightly at the central government level, but the collective leadership sought to manage rapid economic growth, engineered a gradual appreciation of the currency and implemented pledges made to the World Trade Organisation. Economic policies are expected to remain unchanged despite his death.

'This opens the way for the struggle to fill his spot,' said Jonathan Anderson, chief economist for Asia for UBS. 'It's hard for me to see big changes. He was holding the portfolio, but I didn't see him as exercising a lot of personal influence.'

When Huang held the leadership in Shanghai, he earned a reputation as a man who toed the party line and kept his bosses happy. The less charitable say he moved up the ladder on the coat tails of Mr Jiang.

An official obituary called him 'a long-tested and faithful Communist fighter and an outstanding leader of the party and the state'.

A native of Zhejiang province , Huang studied electrical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing before working at machinery, metal and petrochemical companies in Shanghai. He held several posts in the Shanghai government, jumping from a bureau overseeing the electrical industry to vice-mayor, mayor and finally party secretary. Associates in Shanghai describe him as controlling and politically savvy with a photographic memory.

Huang is survived by his wife, Yu Huiwen , daughter Huang Fan , son-in-law Fang Yiwei and a brother, Huang Xi.

The life of Huang Ju

Born in September 1938, native of Jiashan, Zhejiang province Joined the party in March, 1966

1963 to 1982

Worked in the Shanghai Artificial-Board Machinery Factory, Shanghai Zhonghua Metallurgical Factory and Shanghai Petrochemical General Machine-Building Co.

1982 to 1983

Shanghai No. 1 Bureau of Mechanical and Electrical Industry deputy director

1991 to 1995

Member of the political bureau of the party's central committee, party secretary of the Shanghai municipal committee and Shanghai mayor.

1994 to 2002

Member of the party central committee's political bureau and Shanghai party secretary

Nov 2002

Elected member of the standing committee of the central committee's political bureau at the 16th party congress

Mar 2003

Approved as vice-premier of the State Council, at the National People's Congress