FORMER communist giant Hua Guofeng still takes an active interest in the national economy and has been touring the country to gain first-hand knowledge, a Hong Kong-based journal reports. The hand-picked successor of the Great Helmsman Mao Zedong, Mr Hua was sidelined by patriarch Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s when the latter began to replace the old Stalinist economic system with his quasi-capitalist model. Seasoned observers point out that although Mr Hua is only a member of the Central Committee, he still commands a lot of respect within the Mao camp and may pose a threat to General Secretary Jiang Zemin after Mr Deng dies. According to the latest issue of Wide Angle, the 73-year-old former party chief who apparently still enjoys robust health was ''very concerned'' about the ongoing reform, especially the import of foreign investment into China. The journal reports that in a meeting last month with Oei Hong Leong, chairman of Wide Angle, Mr Hua revealed that his real name was Su Zhu and he had completed a month-long fact-finding tour of Shandong province last month. Shandong, along with Guangdong and Shanghai, is one of the fastest-growing regions in China. In the meeting, Mr Hua also told Mr Oei of his wartime experiences and ''association'' with the People's Liberation Army. ''Even today, many of the veterans who fought together with Hua Guofeng during those days can still remember him vividly,'' Wide Angle said. ''So it is [fair] to say that Hua Guofeng's youth was [devoted] to the anti-invasion war in Shanxi and closely tied with the development of China.'' Moreover, the report highlights Mr Hua's personal link with the Great Helmsman, saying after the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Mr Hua had spent 26 years working in Hunan, Mao's native province. In addition, Mr Hua gave his personal blessing to a cement factory established by Mr Oei in Dazhai, Shanxi, a former ''model'' commune during Mao's Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.