China's moon mission chief Ma Xingrui named party chief of high-tech hub Shenzhen

Former chief commander of lunar programme has become party boss of country's high-tech hub

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 March, 2015, 4:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2015, 4:59am

One of the country’s top scientists has been appointed party boss of Shenzhen, a hi-tech hub that hopes to become an innovation leader.

Ma Xingrui took office yesterday afternoon without making any formal comments. He replaces Wang Rong, who was made chairman of the Guangdong Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference last month, the government-run Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported on its microblog.

Ma (pictured) has an extensive background in the aerospace industry – he was chief commander of the Chang’e-3 lunar programme – and experts in the city government’s think tanks said he could help Shenzhen accelerate its shift towards an innovation-based economy.

“We are looking forward to Ma energising Shenzhen’s ambition to be the next world-class innovation hub,” said Guo Wanda, vice-president of the Shenzhen-based China Development Institute. “I think Ma’s reputation in academics and aerospace could help attract overseas talent and capital.

“Now that the central government is encouraging mass innovation to counter the economic downturn, without a doubt, Shenzhen will be treated as the pioneer in leading … hi-tech research and development.”

Ma is also deputy provincial party secretary, and oversees Guangdong’s judiciary and law enforcement. He received his doctorate in general mechanics at the Harbin Institute of Technology in 1988 and taught at its aerospace college.

He was appointed deputy general manager of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation in 1999 and promoted to general manager in 2007. He was made director of the China National Space Administration in 2013. In December of that year, Ma announced the success of Chang’e-3 mission – China’s first lunar surface exploration – at the Beijing aerospace control centre, as President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang looked on.

More than 64 billion yuan (HK$80.46 billion) was invested in research and development in Shenzhen last year. The city’s gross domestic product reached 1.6 trillion yuan last year, growing by 8.8 per cent.

Six emerging industries – biotechnology, the internet, new energy, new materials, information technology and the cultural and creative industries – contributed to 35 per cent of the growth, according to Mayor Xu Qin, a greater proportion than any other mainland city. It also filed 116,000 patent applications under the international system, half the nation’s total.

Guo said Ma would also have to strengthen cooperation between the city and Hong Kong, as well as undertake reforms in public administration, the judiciary and law enforcement.