Capital's planning chief a non-party official
A non-Communist Party official has taken over the helm of Beijing's urban planning department, becoming the first unaffiliated person in five years to be appointed the head of a division in the capital's municipal government.
Opinion was divided over whether the appointment signalled a shift towards recruitment based on talent rather than party membership.
The Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress named Huang Yan , 43, a senior engineer, as the new chief director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning on Tuesday. Ms Huang had been deputy director.
Ms Huang is widely described in mainland media as an energetic, technically driven professional with a master's degree acquired in Belgium and good command of English.
She played a role in Beijing's winning bid for the 2008 Olympic Games and helped draft several major urban planning schemes in Beijing.
Some observers suggested that Ms Huang's appointment could prompt other local governments to recruit more personnel to key posts based on skills and qualifications.
Wang Yukai , from the National School of Administration, said: 'It's a good message to show that Communist Party membership will not be the top priority in choosing officials for key departmental posts.
'More democratic party or non-party members will have the chance to chair various local governmental departments if they have sufficient qualifications.'
There are eight so-called democratic parties on the mainland, which usually toe the official lines on policies. Ms Huang is not a member of any political party.
But other analysts said there would not be any big change in the official appointment policy.
Mao Shoulong , from Renmin University, said Ms Huang's promotion was more 'symbolic rather than bringing any radical change'.
The professor said Ms Huang was widely seen as 'a reliable, trustworthy official according to the Communist Party's personnel selection criteria'.