The appointment of Gui Shiyong as director of the State Council Research Office has surprised observers, as he was once closely associated with Maoist Deng Liqun. 'The style of Mr Gui can hardly fit into the 'bold reformer' image of premier Zhu Rongji,' a Beijing source said. Sources said that although Mr Gui had been a close associate of ideologue Mr Deng, the former was more moderate and acceptable to non-conservative camps. The director has to work closely with the premier and is responsible for drafting the annual government work report, to be presented to the National People's Congress, and major state documents. Opponents said Mr Gui, who moves from the presidency of the State Administrative College, was restricted by his lengthy experience in planned economics. They doubted he would perform well in setting aggressive targets for market reforms. Mr Gui, a Central Committee member, graduated from the Department of Planned Economics of the People's University of China in 1956 and spent 20 years with the former State Planning Commission. At 64, he is four years older than his predecessor, Wang Mengkui. Sources said potential replacements for Mr Wang, a protege and key adviser of President Jiang Zemin, were limited. The transfer of Mr Wang to head the State Council Development Research Centre, a less important institution than his previous department, indicated Mr Zhu wanted to keep Mr Wang at a distance. Xinhua yesterday also announced that Chen Qingtai, vice-minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission, had been made deputy director-general of the centre under Mr Wang. Yang Jinyu was promoted to head of the State Council Legislative Affairs Office, recently upgraded from a bureau to a ministry-level office. Former Finance Minister Liu Zhongli was named head of the Restructuring Economy Office under the State Council. The office will serve the senior-level think-tank, directly led by Mr Zhu, set up to partly replace the State Commission for Restructuring the Economy. Ministers will sit on the think-tank depending on the issues discussed. Xie Zhenhua was named director of the National Environment Protection Agency, recently made a ministry-level organisation. Jin Renqing was named director of the State General Administration of Taxation.