Zhang Dejiang

Cadres praise Zhang Dejiang's short stint as party chief in Chongqing

He was party chief for only eight months, after Bo Xilai's downfall, but the praise flowed freely

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 4:26am

Zhang Dejiang was not in Chongqing long, spending just eight months as party chief for the western metropolis. But that did not stop officials from showering him with praise as he left to join the Communist Party's most powerful body.

More than 200 local party officials gathered behind closed doors for a changing-of-the-guard event in which Zhang formally made way for his successor as Chongqing party secretary - former Jilin party secretary Sun Zhengcai - the Chongqing Daily reported.

Much of the event, however, was acknowledging the work of the outgoing Zhang, who was installed earlier this month as the No 3 official on the Communist Party's all-powerful Standing Committee.

Zhang took control in Chongqing on March 14, the same day its previous leader, Bo Xilai, was removed amid a political scandal. Bo, a populist "princeling", had wielded immense influence over the city.

"Comrade Zhang threw himself heart and soul into his work of reform, development and stability in Chongqing, after he had been named to head the city concurrently at a special period," the party's newly appointed personnel chief, Zhao Leji, was quoted as saying.

However, some Chongqing residents were not convinced, including Yin Zhongjun, who said Zhang's tenure in Chongqing was too short to leave a lasting mark.

"The three principles Zhang raised at his leaving party was nothing more than toeing the party line and approaching ordinary folks, but he has seemingly done nothing notable in our city," Yin said.

Perhaps no one was more emotional about Zhang's departure than long-time Chongqing mayor, Huang Qifan, who had been widely expected to be ousted as a consequence of Bo's downfall. Instead, he was elevated to become a full member of the party's elite Central Committee.

Huang twice shed tears while praising Zhang, said an official who attended the event. "Of course, he should breathe a sign of relief for having weathered such a big political turmoil," the source said. "But he might also feel he was wronged for being implicated in the downfall of his former boss, Bo."