Ministers yesterday welcomed the change of leadership as Wen Jiabao stepped into the shoes of the often fiery Zhu Rongji. In what bordered on a collec tive sigh of relief, the ministers said Mr Wen had a less abrasive style than that of the legendarily stern Mr Zhu. '[Mr Wen] is an experienced politician,' said Xie Zhenhua, Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration. 'They [Mr Wen and Mr Zhu] have somewhat different personal styles. One [Mr Zhu] is decisive. The other is meticulous.' Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, described Mr Wen as very capable. 'He has a very solid background, meaning he has had strong experience in managing the country's economic affairs, party and political matters,' he said. 'He's a very skilful and very decisive. But when it comes to major decisions, he's very prudent. So I believe he will be a very successful premier.' Wang Shucheng, who is expected to stay on as minister of water resources in the new cabinet to be officially announced today, added: 'As a leader, he is very special. 'He has a quick wit and is a very logical speaker. When he makes an argument, he starts out with the theoretical framework before coming to a conclusion.' Mr Wang went on to describe Mr Wen as possessing photographic memory, having a penchant for writing his own speeches and as genuinely interested in the well-being of ordinary citizens. Appointed as the minister of water resources after the devastating floods of 1998, Mr Wang remembers travelling with Mr Wen. 'Normally, the routes were pre-arranged,' he said. '[But] if you rode in comrade Wen Jiabao's car, it would stop all the time. He would tell the driver to stop and pay a visit to the village or talk to the farmers working the fields.' If Mr Wen shares some traits as Mr Zhu, ministers were quick to point out the differences. 'The two of them have similar styles,' said Li Jinhua, head of the National Audit Office. 'But Premier Wen is milder. Both [styles] are very good.' Mr Wang added: 'Comrade Zhu Rongji was very straightforward and very demanding. 'Wen Jiabao will reason with you first and then demand something be done or make a suggestion, making you feel you are obliged to do so because he has a good rationale.' Minister of Communications Zhang Chunxian agreed that Mr Wen was less severe, adding: 'Everybody is familiar with premier Zhu's style.' Mr Zhu's now legendary approach to leadership included stern and public dressing-downs of sloppy and corrupt officials. It is said to have made him many enemies. 'We ministers often got singled out [by Mr Zhu],' Mr Wang said. 'I myself was singled out many times - more often than not for criticism. Mr Wen . . . doesn't scream at you. He would try to convince you. But when it comes to critical issues, he is very decisive. [The two styles] each have their strengths.'