One moment premier Zhu was facing a barrage of media questions, the next he was flirting with a pretty journalist and joking at his own expense. 'I just want to say you are my idol,' swooned Wu Xiaoli, a news presenter from Rupert Murdoch's Phoenix satellite channel. No one ever dreamed of saying that to dour Li Peng. After 10 years of his ever-briefer encounters with the press, the new leader proved a crowd pleaser. Mr Zhu was determined to show himself as spontaneous and confident in dealing with the press as he has been in tackling China's economic problems. While Mr Li never recognised any of the press, Mr Zhu was quick to tell his admirer Wu how he enjoyed her show. He added that he had read Newsweek and Time magazines, both of which featured him on their covers. 'I would like to express my gratitude to your magazine,' he said, praising the Time cover photo. 'I am not so good looking at all,' he declared. Although Mr Zhu declared he was ready to answer any questions, he quickly dispensed with one concerning his past as a rightist condemned to labour in the countryside - a fact omitted from his official biographies. 'I learned a lot from this experience and it was very unhappy. I don't want to mention that now,' he said. Despite the dramatic change in style from his predecessor, the premier was constantly at pains to show he was not 'China's Gorbachev' and there was no daylight between his views on Tiananmen and those of Mr Li. But while political reform may not be on his agenda, his style hinted at more flexibility, informality and a more liberal tone in society. Mr Zhu did say he approved of elections. His comment came a day after Beijing papers carried a story of how, for the first time, the deputy rector of the Geology University was elected. With vice-premiers present at the press conference, Mr Zhu also suggested a more relaxed Cabinet. However, with the boundless certainty his bold targets were easily within reach, it was reminiscent of the first press conference Mr Li had given as premier, and, before him, Zhao Ziyang. They, too, glibly promised to make state-owned enterprises behave like companies in a market economy, to slash the bureaucracy, boost education spending and bring the feckless provincial authorities to heel.