Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
New Chongqing boss reassures investors
Chongqing's new Communist Party secretary vowed to maintain stability and continue the economic 'opening up' of the southwestern municipality, seeking to reassure foreign investors who have been anxiously looking for signs of policy changes.
Zhang Dejiang, who replaced Bo Xilai last week, pledged on Wednesday that the municipality would continue to attract foreign investment and streamline related procedures.
The flamboyant Bo, known for his love of ultra-conservative ideology, also oversaw rapid economic growth in the municipality over the past few years with the help of his deputy, mayor Huang Qifan .
Last week's change in leadership triggered concerns among the business community about whether existing economic policies would be changed. Zhang made his name for the rapid development of the private economy in Zhejiang when he was party chief of the affluent coastal province between 1998 and 2002.
'Chongqing has achieved remarkable economic and social development since becoming a municipality [in 1997]. One valuable lesson we have learned is that we need to stick to reform and opening up,' Zhang told a delegation led by the head of Taiwan's Acer Group, Wang Jen-tang, at a technology expo.
He said Chongqing's development had entered a 'critical moment', and it welcomed investment by overseas investors, including those from Taiwan.
'Chongqing will diversify and optimise its policies to improve its opening up,' Zhang said. 'We will improve our business environment, streamline investment procedures, improve service quality and protect the legitimate interests of investors.'
Wang said Zhang's reassurances would boost investor confidence, state-run Xinhua reported yesterday.
Chongqing's economic output topped one trillion yuan (HK$1.2 trillion) for the first time last year, up more than 16 per cent year on year and topping the mainland growth table, along with Tianjin .
Huang Wei , head of the Chongqing Municipal Private Business Association, had said earlier that nothing had changed for entrepreneurs since Bo's removal, but some investors wanted to wait and see if Zhang was only a transitional figure.
Speaking at a meeting with representatives of the municipality's financial institutions on Wednesday, Huang urged banks and other government agencies to support the development of small businesses, pledging that 3.5 billion yuan of loans should be provided this year.
Huang said about 50,000 small enterprises had created 400,000 jobs in Chongqing.
In a separate development, He Ting, the former Qinghai security chief who was parachuted into Chongqing to take over the vice-mayor position vacated by Wang Lijun, Bo's key aide who reportedly sought political asylum at the US consulate in Chengdu last month, has been put in charge of law and order, according to reports in the Chongqing Daily.