Former secretary to Chinese President Xi Jinping named Communist Party's top boss in Shanghai

Mr Li Qiang attending a delegation meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Oct 19, 2017.
Mr Li Qiang attending a delegation meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the People on Oct 19, 2017. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

BEIJING - A former secretary to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mr Li Qiang, has been named the Communist Party's top boss in Shanghai.

Mr Li, 58, who was formally the party secretary of Jiangsu province, replaced Mr Han Zheng, 63, after Mr Han was elevated to the Politburo Standing Committee, the top seven-member decision-making body of the party, reported the South China Morning Post on Sunday (Oct 29).

Mr Li is a rising star from the so-called New Zhijiang Army, officials from Mr Xi's Zhejiang province power base who have been appointed to key posts in the party, government and army.

Zhejiang entrepreneurs describe Mr Li as a supporter of economic reforms. A low-profile politician, Mr Li also became a new member of the Politburo last week, paving the way for his elevation after a 16-month stint as the party chief of Jiangsu province.

 
 

"Li will have the ear of the Chinese leadership given his experience as President Xi Jinping's secretary. And his connections in Zhejiang and Jiangsu will help the central government with its plan to better coordinate economic development in the Yangtze River Delta," said Professor Chen Daoyin of the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

"Shanghai will be in a better position to spearhead further liberalisations with Li taking the top position in the city," he added.

Mr Li served as Mr Xi's secretary for three years when Mr Xi was the party chief of Zhejiang between 2003 and 2007.

His elevation comes after Shanghai revealed plans to develop a free-trade port that is fully open to global business, much like Hong Kong's, SCMP reported.