Astronaut Yang Liwei looks set to win the annual Most Influential Person of the Year award staged by the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly this year, an informal poll of local residents has shown. Ten local employees of US software company Fourth Shift voted unanimously for Colonel Yang although one information technology engineer said he would vote for Premier Wen Jiabao if he were on the list. Zhang Xiaoou, an agent at the Guangzhou KaiXin Properties Agency, said she and her colleagues would choose Colonel Yang because of his impact on mainlanders and his international standing. 'If the sphere of influence was limited to Guangdong, I would vote for Zhong Nanshan ,' Ms Zhang said. Colonel Yang and Dr Zhong, head of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases who led efforts in the fight against Sars, were among 11 people nominated by the weekly's editorial board. Xu Nie, the editor in charge of the project, said the winner would be announced in the newspaper's January 1 issue. Also nominated was Sun Zhigang, a Wuhan university graduate beaten to death in Guangzhou because he did not have residency papers. Sun's death triggered a public outcry that led to the abolition of the Custody and Repatriation system that discriminates against the migrant population in cities. Other candidates were Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan, who was sent to clean up Guangdong's financial sector in the late 1990s, Peking University chancellor Xu Zhihong, volleyball player Chen Zhonghe, Shijiazhuang graft buster Guo Guangyun, central banker Zhou Xiaochuan, Henan Aids campaigner Gao Yaojie, and television directors Sheng Heyu and Zhang Jianwei, who were jointly nominated for their banned serial about the period between the end of the Qing dynasty and the warlord era.