Guangzhou has greeted the new year by unveiling a dynamic new leadership and announcing ambitious goals to double the city's per capita gross domestic product by the end of the decade. The city's Eighth Communist Party Congress, which closed on Monday, elected a new and expanded standing committee featuring better-educated and younger members. Executive Vice-Mayor Zhang Guangning, who is a member of the committee led by city party secretary and Mayor Lin Shusen, is widely seen as the strongest candidate to succeed Mr Lin as the next mayor. Mr Lin will remain party secretary. Mr Zhang was appointed a deputy party secretary, along with Zhu Zhengzhong, Su Zhijia and Zhang Guifang, 50, who is also a vice-mayor. The new leaders are expected to forge closer links with Hong Kong as an infusion of investment from the SAR will continue to play a key role in the city's drive to compete with Shanghai and Shenzhen in becoming the mainland's premier metropolis. Mr Su, 49, is the director of the city's Communist Party Organisation Department. Mr Zhang's appointment as a deputy party secretary and his ranking as the first deputy in the official media indicates that he is in line to take over from Mr Lin when the 10th Guangzhou People's Congress convenes on January 13, analysts say. 'It looks that way if we go by convention,'' said Li Jiangtao, a party delegate and deputy director of the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences. Mr Zhang's possible promotion is also supported by the election of another vice-mayor, Fujian native Lin Yuanhe, 52, to the standing committee. While it is possible for Guangzhou to have more than one executive vice-mayor, Mr Zhang who had been party secretary and managing director of Guangzhou Iron and Steel Group Co. before becoming vice-mayor in 1996 appears to be the front-runner to take over the helm of the city. During the past year Mr Zhang has worked tirelessly on Lin Shusen's pet Nansha island project, which is aimed at restoring Guangzhou's glory as a major sea port. The project is backed by Hong Kong tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung and a number of Hong Kong universities. Analysts said the line-up indicated that Lin Shusen had put in place people he trusted to ensure that Guangzhou maintained its lead over the rest of the country. Meanwhile, the party forecast that the city's GDP would grow at a rate of 12 per cent this year. The growth rate for 2002 is expected to reach 12.6 per cent, higher than the 12 per cent target set at the start of the year. The party secretary said the city had set a target of raising its per capita GDP to US$10,000 (HK$77,800) by 2010, soon after Shanghai announced a similar target. Guangzhou's per capita GDP is now US$5,000. By 2020, Guangzhou's per capita GDP would have doubled again to reach the level of developed countries, Mr Lin said. The party's emphasis on technological development was also underlined by the election to the standing committee of Ling Weixian, 48, director of the Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone.