Han Zheng

Mayor Han's job on line amid moves to bust 'Shanghai Gang'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2008, 12:00am


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Shanghai's political landscape is changing, as more officials from outside the city take up government posts following a corruption scandal that came to light in 2006.

With the local legislature due to approve candidates for several top jobs at its annual meeting, which starts tomorrow, the focus is on whether Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng stays in his current position. There are rumours that he will leave and counter-rumours that he will remain.

Regardless of his fate, more outsiders could be given positions of power as President Hu Jintao seeks to impose his will on the city and its powerful political clique, the 'Shanghai Gang', analysts say. The Shanghai People's Congress would confirm the posts of mayor, vice-mayors, president of the Shanghai Higher People's Court and chief prosecutor of the Shanghai People's Procuratorate, state media reported.

Deputies will also approve the chairman, vice-chairmen and secretary general of the congress itself. Although described as elections, the body usually approves appointments made in advance. In the immediate aftermath of the September 2006 sacking of then Shanghai party secretary Chen Liangyu for his role in embezzling pension funds, the central government transferred only one senior official out of the city and moved only one top official into Shanghai.

Jiang Sixian , former head of the Organisation Department and Chen's chief of staff, became a vice-governor of the island province of Hainan . Shen Deyong , former vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, became secretary of Shanghai's Commission for Discipline Inspection, which investigates corruption within the Communist Party.

Since that time, however, Shanghai's replacement party secretaries have both hailed from outside the city.

Xi Jinping, a native of Shaanxi province who worked mainly in Fujian and Zhejiang , has since been promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee.

The new Shanghai party secretary, Yu Zhengsheng, also spent his career outside the city, although he is from neighbouring Zhejiang province. The veteran official is viewed as a father figure sent to stabilise Shanghai.

Two new vice-mayors appointed last month also highlight the trend. Hubei native Tu Guangshao formerly served as the deputy chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission. Liaoning native Ai Baojun was most recently working in Shanghai as general manager of Baosteel Group. Both men have worked in the city but they are not viewed as Shanghai officials. Mr Tu, former chairman of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, is expected to take over the financial portfolio as vice-mayor.