The new Shanghai party chief pledged to run a clean government when his appointment was confirmed yesterday.
'I will do my best to do more good things for Shanghai people,' Xi Jinping said during a meeting that ended six months of uncertainty after the city's top leader, Chen Liangyu , was sacked for corruption in September last year.
The appointment of an outsider showed the determination of President Hu Jintao to bring Shanghai into line and threw into question the political future of Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng, who was serving as acting party secretary following the corruption scandal, analysts said.
'Hu wants someone he can trust to govern Shanghai,' said Jing Huang, a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. 'The ideal for President Hu is to make sure there will not be any negative impact on Shanghai's economy.'
Xinhua's announcement also said Mr Han was no longer acting party secretary. The official release confirmed a report in Saturday's South China Morning Post. Some observers had not expected a new leader to be confirmed until a local party meeting in May.
More than 20 officials have been implicated in the pension case, which involves misappropriation of more than 3 billion yuan in funds. The party has yet to announce that Mr Chen will be handed over to the judiciary for punishment, but there are expectations that the announcement of a new party secretary means the investigation is drawing to a close.
Mr Xi was previously party chief of Zhejiang province , which borders Shanghai. He was among a handful of people previously rumoured to be in line for the post, which included Jiangsu party chief Li Yuanchao and head of the party's United Front Work Department, Liu Yandong .
His expertise in running Zhejiang, a booming coastal province and the centre of private enterprise, could make his appointment more palatable to Shanghai officials.
Mr Xi, 53, is a native of Shaanxi province . He has worked in four provinces: Shaanxi, Hebei, Fujian and Zhejiang. He was previously governor of Fujian province before going to Zhejiang in 2002. Absent from his official biography is a mention of his late father, Xi Zhongxun , a top party official.
The head of the party's powerful Organisation Department, He Guoqiang, announced the appointment at a meeting of party cadres yesterday afternoon. He urged Shanghai officials to support Mr Hu and emphasised the city's role as the mainland's biggest economic centre.