Wang Qishan: From tour guide to troubleshooter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2007, 12:00am

Beijing mayor Wang Qishan's experience in handling Sars and preparations for the Olympics qualified him to move into the Politburo. But doubts over the 59-year-old princeling's abilities remain.

It is difficult to imagine how Mr Wang, a former museum tour guide in Shaanxi could have become the mayor of Beijing without some help from his father-in-law, former vice-premier Yao Yilin .

After spending a few years studying history at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Mr Wang joined the State Council, rising swiftly to take charge of the nation's rural reform in the 1980s, when Mr Yao was at the height of his power.

In the 1990s, Mr Wang's work shifted to the finance sector as he became president of the China Construction Bank and chairman of the China International Capital Corporation. He spent the latter part of the decade in Guangdong as a deputy governor, during which time he solved a provincial financial crisis caused by the bankruptcy of the Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corporation.

Mr Wang's experience in economic reform won the admiration of former premier Zhu Rongji , who in 2000 appointed him head of the State Council's powerful, but since disbanded, Economic Restructuring Office. Mr Wang became an efficient troubleshooter for Mr Zhu and was appointed party secretary of Hainan to clean up the mess after a real-estate bubble burst in late 2002.

In April 2003, when Sars broke out in Beijing, the city's mayor, Meng Xuenong , was sacked. The new leadership recalled Mr Wang out of semi-retirement to fight the fire.

Next year's Olympics - if successful - will bolster his reputation but strategic planning, rather than crisis management, is the ability he needs to demonstrate.

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