Two new vice-chairmen, but no word on Shanghai mayoral post

Shanghai yesterday ended an annual legislative session by approving two new vice-chairmen to its people's congress, but made no mention of a change in the post of mayor.

The Shanghai People's Congress named Vice-Mayor Zhou Yupeng and Deputy Communist Party Secretary Liu Yungeng as vice-chairmen of the legislative body, the state-backed Eastday website said.

Such appointments are generally aimed at easing officials out because of age or for political reasons, and they would typically step down from other government or party posts, thus leaving vacancies for both a vice-mayor and a deputy party secretary, a government source and a diplomat said.

The meeting, which started last Sunday, had been closely watched for clues on whether mayor and acting Party Secretary Han Zheng would take the party job on a permanent basis. Mr Han became acting party secretary last year after authorities removed Chen Liangyu for his role in misuse of the city's pension fund.

Mr Zhou and Mr Liu were still listed on government websites yesterday as retaining their other positions. Both will turn 60, the mandatory retirement age, this year.

There were rumours that Mr Zhou's career as a vice-mayor might be drawing to an end after he gave up the key World Expo portfolio last year. Shanghai will host the world's fair in 2010.

Mr Zhou, a Jiangsu province native and economist by training, has served as vice-mayor since 1998. He is also a member of the party's local standing committee. He has held several other government and party posts.

Mr Liu, a Zhejiang province native, has been a deputy party secretary since 2000 after working his way up through the ranks in Shanghai.

The Shanghai People's Congress also approved an annual policy speech by the mayor which set a lower target for economic growth and called for boosting the fight against corruption.