Han Zheng, Shanghai's youngest ever mayor at 52, has a clean image and a reputation as a capable technocrat. Since taking over as mayor in February 2003, the trained economist has given a steady, but unspectacular, performance at the helm of the mainland's commercial capital. 'He's a steady pair of hands who deals with policy well,' one western diplomat said. His low-key style could be a reflection of the caution befitting a Chinese official hoping to move up the political ladder, though some say inexperience is a factor. One of the mayor's rare mistakes was making bullish comments about the property market that may come back to haunt him. Like Chen Liangyu, Mr Han has ties to Huang Ju, another former Shanghai party secretary who is now a Politburo Standing Committee member and vice-premier. Mr Han will be acting party secretary while continuing as mayor. A native of Zhejiang province, Mr Han rose through the government and party ranks in Shanghai, where he has spent his entire political career. He previously served as executive vice-mayor and then vice-mayor. He has not embraced foreign companies as strongly as some Shanghai leaders, though the city continues to attract massive overseas investment, which has contributed to double-digit economic growth. 'He hasn't focused on foreign businesses, though he hasn't neglected them. For his political career, maybe he has other considerations,' said one US business executive. Residents feel they know little about their mayor and some say he should be more receptive to their needs. One man said he wrote to the mayor's office claiming a doctor had prescribed the wrong medicine to his daughter, but the complaint was sent back to the hospital. 'I wrote more letters and the only answer was, 'We have replied to your letter'. I doubt the mayor really reads complaints,' he said. Mr Han's relative youth and clean image, since he is considered free of scandal from corruption, will help his political rise. Older members of the so-called Shanghai Gang - a faction of leaders hailing from the city - see him as new blood. 'His career is tied with the Shanghai faction. I think he still has a political future,' said Cheng Li, professor of government at Hamilton College in New York and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Mr Han graduated from Shanghai's East China Normal University. He worked in the chemical and rubber industries, but mainly in Communist Party positions. He was first appointed secretary of the Shanghai branch of the Communist Youth League. Although the Youth League is considered one of the power bases of President Hu Jintao, Mr Han owes a greater allegiance to Shanghai. He also served as head of Shanghai's central Luwan district, deputy secretary-general of the city government and chief of the planning commission. People who know Mr Han say he possesses a photographic memory, and is more relaxed at intimate gatherings than public events. He likes to play tennis and has matched his skills against the US ambassador to China, Clark Randt.