Premier since 2003, 70-year-old Wen served as vice-premier between 1998 and 2002. Earlier in his career he spent 14 years working in Gansu province’s geological bureau before being promoted in 1982 to vice-minister of geology and mineral resources. Wen graduated from the Beijing Institute of Geology in 1968 and has a master’s degree in geology. He was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee between 2002 and 2012.
Minister proud of railways' disaster effort
Railways Minister Liu Zhijun, who has come under fire for the transport chaos amid the snowstorms this year, says he was satisfied with his ministry's performance during the disaster.
Speaking on the sidelines of the National People's Congress meeting yesterday, Mr Liu said: 'The 2.1 million railway staff were very courageous and they fought hard during the snowstorm disaster. As a minister, I am very satisfied.'
Guangdong officials have accused the Ministry of Railways of misinforming state leaders. They believe the pledge made by Premier Wen Jiabao - that all migrant workers would be able to go home despite the poor weather - was based on inaccurate information provided by the ministry.
Mr Wen's pledge reignited the hopes of workers, who swarmed to Guangzhou's railway station to catch trains home. At one point during the crisis, 800,000 people were stuck at the station.
Mr Liu did not say whether the ministry had informed state leaders of the magnitude of the crisis in time, but said it had done a good job. 'We can disperse 3.5 million people in 10 days - it is something no other country can do,' he said.
Guangzhou provincial Chinese Political Consultative Conference vice-chairman Guo Xiling has criticised government departments for their handling of the disaster and has called for railway officials to be removed from their posts.
'Two departments should be criticised: the China Metrological Administration, which failed to forecast the severity of the disaster, and the Ministry of Railways, which did an even worse job,' Mr Guo said last month.
Mr Guo said railway authorities had continued selling tickets even though there were reports that many regions were already experiencing power cuts. Mr Guo welcomed Mr Liu's criticism as an 'incentive for improvement'.