Shanghai party chief Yu Zhengsheng has denied overseas reports that mayor Han Zheng would leave his job in the financial hub and become party secretary for Anhui province .
Mr Yu, a Politburo member recently appointed party secretary to head the mainland's most important economic city, said he needed Mr Han's help in managing Shanghai as the mayor was familiar with local situation.
'I came to Shanghai just less than one month ago. If mayor Han Zheng were to be transferred immediately, it would affect the work in Shanghai,' the Beijing-friendly Ta Kung Pao newspaper yesterday quoted Mr Yu as saying.
Overseas reports also said Shaanxi governor Yuan Chunqing had been tipped to take over from Mr Han.
A municipal official in Shanghai said yesterday that officials were talking about possible reshuffles in the city. 'There is no smoke without fire,' the official said.
The party leadership recently announced a series of major reshuffles in regional governments following the party's five-yearly National Congress, which installed a new leadership lineup and set broad policy goals.
Mr Han, a native of Zhejiang , took over as Shanghai mayor in 2003 when he was 49, becoming one of the youngest provincial-level leaders.
He rose through the government and party ranks in Shanghai, where he has spent his entire career.
Analysts said if Mr Han and Mr Yuan's appointments were confirmed, it would strengthen President Hu Jintao's grip over Shanghai and be another setback for the 'Shanghai faction' - a political clique headed by former president Jiang Zemin .
Mr Han is seen as a member of the Shanghai faction, and Mr Yuan a protege of the president.
Shanghai has not had a mayor from outside the city in 16 years.