The Communist Party yesterday appointed a close ally of President Hu Jintao as the party chief of southwestern powerhouse Sichuan province , in a string of key personnel changes also involving Guangdong, Chongqing and Anhui .
Liu Qibao , 54, a protege of Mr Hu, replaces Du Qinglin , 61, as the party secretary of Sichuan, the People's Daily reported yesterday.
The newspaper also said Mr Du, who was widely tipped to take charge of the party's United Front Work Department, would be 'entrusted with an important position'.
Both the new Sichuan party chief and his predecessor have backgrounds in the Communist Youth League, Mr Hu's power base.
Mr Liu, a former party boss of Guangxi , is considered to be one of the rising stars among the fifth generation of leaders.
Like Mr Hu, he is a native of Anhui and once held the top position in the secretariat of the central committee of the youth league.
In other reshuffles, Wang Yang , also an ally of Mr Hu, was formally named as the new party chief of Guangdong. Mr Wang will relocate from Chongqing. He succeeds Zhang Dejiang in Guangdong.
Former trade minister Bo Xilai will replace Mr Wang in Chongqing.
Wang Jinshan , 62, has taken over as the party secretary of central Anhui province, Xinhua said. His predecessor Guo Jinlong , 64, also a Hu protege, was named Beijing mayor earlier this week.
'Wang [Yang] is famous for his open-mindedness and boldness in carrying out reforms,' Hong Kong-based commentator Poon Siu-to said of the new Guangdong chief. The former deputy director at the National Development and Reform Commission 'has rich economic work experience, which is rare among the mainland's senior officials'.
Mr Wang showed 'high crisis management skills' in handling the nail house saga earlier this year when he was the Chongqing party chief, when he managed to cool the intense standoff between local officials and angry residents through open dialogue, Mr Poon said.
In another announcement, Sun Yu, vice-governor of Guangxi, was dismissed from his position. Mr Sun, 50, assumed the post in January 1998. According to Caijing magazine, Mr Sun received bribes worth 400 million yuan during construction of a flood-control and water conservation project over the past three years.