New Shanghai mayor vows to treat city's problems as 'a citizen'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 February, 2013, 5:48am

Shanghai's new mayor, Yang Xiong, said yesterday he understood the "inadequacies" of public services as "a citizen" of the mainland's commercial hub.

In his first speech to the press since the city legislature confirmed his appointment, Yang said environmental issues would top his administration's agenda, and he also pledged to look into employment, skyrocketing medical expenses, inequity in education and food safety.

"We became mayor and vice mayors thanks to the trust of our deputies, but we will never forget that we are, first and foremost, citizens," Yang told media after the closing of the Shanghai People's Congress. "We are also aware of the challenges facing the city and the inadequacies in the government's work."

He added: "Only by listening to all voices and understanding the diverse demands of the people will we be able to realise democratic and science-based decision-making."

Shanghai is stepping up efforts to become an international financial and shipping centre.

Yang faces an uphill task during his five-year term to implement an ambitious plan to drastically liberalise the finance and trade sectors. In a work report to the local legislature last week, Yang, who was then acting mayor, said Shanghai would create a free-trade zone.

Yang's political comeback surprised many and was seen as a departure from Communist Party political norms. Born in 1953, Yang was one of Shanghai's deputy mayors for the past decade and before that served as the deputy secretary general of the municipal government. But his appointment raised eyebrows given his absence from both the party's new Central Committee and the city's party standing committee.

The other provincial chief without Central Committee or local party standing committee credentials is the new Sichuan governor, Wei Hong .

Meanwhile, all 31 provincial-level municipalities and provinces have completed reshuffles before next month's National People's Congress.

Among the new provincial-level government bosses, Li Xiaopeng , the son of former premier Li Peng, was elected governor of Shanxi province.