Sun Chunlan, one of two women on the Communist Party's new Politburo, was appointed party secretary of Tianjin yesterday, succeeding new Politburo Standing Committee member Zhang Gaoli.
Sun, 62, was previously party chief of Fujian and a Central Committee member. She won promotion to the Politburo last week.
Hu Xingdou, a political analyst at the Beijing Institute of Technology, said Sun, the second-highest-ranked woman in the party hierarchy, behind State Councillor Liu Yandong, should be well suited to her new role given her trade union background and experience in overseeing two provinces, Fujian and Liaoning.
"Although Tianjin is a place of great importance, it's smaller and easier to oversee in terms of population and size," he said. "Besides that, she should be a clear-minded person who will not wallow in the mire with others, considering the history between her and Bo Xilai."
Sun was reportedly a long-time foe of Bo, the disgraced former Chongqing party boss. After taking over from Bo as party chief of Dalian in 2001, when Bo was appointed governor of Liaoning, she removed nearly all Bo's trusted subordinates in Dalian.
Bo is also rumoured to have laughed at Sun because she used to be a worker in a clock factory.
Starting out as an ordinary worker in the clock factory in Anshan, Liaoning in 1969, Sun spent the following 40 years in the northeastern province, working in its women's federation and trade union and rising all the way to deputy party chief of the province.
She was appointed party secretary of Fujian in 2009 after four years as deputy chairwoman of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.
Lu Wei, director of the Institute of Economic and Social Forecast at the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, said that despite her rich experience in promoting commerce and investment, Sun faced a lot of challenges in her new role in the port city.
"The city has witnessed fast growth owing to investment and exports in past years, but to solely depend on investment will not work for long," he warned. "How to generate growth by stimulating consumption will be a big issue."
Sun would also have to tackle the tough tasks of social development and environmental protection, Lu said.
"Zhang Gaoli recorded great achievements, especially economically, in Tianjin in the past five years, but five years is actually a short period since many projects have only been half-done or have just started," he said.
"How to keep up the momentum and let more people share the achievements will be a major challenge."
Two years ago, Sun led a two-day tour of Fujian officials and businesspeople to Tianjin to learn from the municipality's experiences in promoting investment and building up the Binhai New Area, a regional financial hub that has won support from the central government.
He Lifeng, Tianjin's deputy party secretary, was party chief of Xiamen in Fujian before assuming his current post in 2009.