Guangzhou Deputy Party Secretary Zhang Guangning was appointed acting mayor on Saturday, paving the way for him to formally assume the top government post. The appointment came as the previous mayor, Lin Shusen, submitted his resignation to the city's Communist Party Standing Committee, the Yangcheng Evening News reported. Mr Lin, who had been mayor since 1998, was promoted to Guangzhou party chief in December. A close ally of his predecessor, Mr Zhang had been widely tipped to take over the mayor's job when he was appointed vice-party secretary of the Guangzhou Communist Party in December. Prior to that, he had served for seven years as executive vice-mayor. While in this post, Mr Zhang was Mr Lin's top deputy and was responsible for the city's industrial development. Last year he directed the Nansha Island development project, which is aimed at restoring Guangzhou's status as a major trading port in the Pearl River Delta. The Southern Daily reported that Mr Zhang told the city's People's Congress Standing Committee his main goal was to improve the quality of life for Guangzhou's seven million residents. He is expected to continue to forge close links with Hong Kong and raise Guangzhou's profile to become one of the nation's top cities. Born in Guangzhou but of Shandong decent, Mr Zhang began his political career as a worker at the Guangzhou Iron Steel Group Company in 1971. He was promoted to become the company's party secretary and its managing director two decades later. Guangzhou is one of the nation's wealthiest and fastest growing cities. Its per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated at about US$5,000 (HK$39,000). The city's economic growth rate last year stood at about 12 per cent. Officials say they plan to raise the city's per capita GDP to US$10,000 by 2010 and to match the per capita GDP of developed nations by 2020.