Beijing's mayor and a deputy mayor resigned yesterday in what is likely a routine reshuffle after the municipal party congress.
But the change in leadership comes amid a public outcry of the government's handling of rainstorms in the capital that left at least 37 people dead.
State-run media reported that Wang Anshun was appointed as acting mayor after Guo Jinlong tendered his resignation. Deputy mayor Ji Lin also stepped down.
The moves were not unexpected. Guo, 65, was promoted to Beijing party secretary at the municipal party congress on July 3. Wang, 55, was promoted to first deputy party secretary, while Ji was elevated to second deputy.
Analysts called the reshuffle routine. It is standard practice that the positions of party secretary and mayor should not be held by the same person. The same applies to the positions of political and legal commission chief and deputy mayors.
'It is just a normal exercise conducted after the municipal party congress and it has nothing to do with the rainstorms,' said Zhang Ming, a political science professor at Renmin University. 'But it was announced after the rainstorm, triggering speculation over whether Guo stepped down because of them.'
Zhu Lijia , from the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the reshuffle had been decided after the municipal party congress concluded. 'It was an anticipated move to appoint the first deputy party secretary as mayor,' he said.
But some mainlanders associated the reshuffle with the chaotic handling of the rainstorm, which put the government under fire for Beijing's poor drainage system and slow rescue efforts.
Some in the public are also disputing the government's official toll in the capital, but the municipal government says it still collecting information and is being transparent about what it knows.
Still, one weibo user said: 'The resignation has at least indicated that someone listens to public voices.'
'Good, it is a very good move,' said known blogger and columnist Wang Xiaoshan on his Sina Weibo.
Wang Anshun has extensive experience in the oil industry, a power base of former vice-president Zeng Qinghong , serving as director of a petroleum exploration centre in Jilin province.
He surprised many observers of mainland politics in 2007 when he was transferred from Shanghai to become Beijing's second deputy party secretary, in the wake of the sacking of Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu .
Wang was tipped to succeed Wang Qishan as Beijing mayor five years ago, but the job went to Guo. The promotion of Guo to party secretary paves the way for his rise to the Politburo at the national party congress in autumn, and analysts said the rainstorms would not affect his political career.
'I won't say public opinion has no influence on the central authority, but it is not going to make a big impact,' Zhang, the professor, said.