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Ex-secretary to Xi named Shanghai party boss

Rising star appointed to China's Politburo

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, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday.

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.

The move puts Mr Xi's allies in China's four major municipalities - Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing - power centres on par administratively to provinces, Reuters reported.

Mr Li was appointed to the 25-member Politburo, which is under the Standing Committee, on Wednesday.

He is seen as a strong contender to be further promoted to the Standing Committee at the next congress in 2022.

Zhejiang entrepreneurs describe Mr Li as a supporter of economic reforms.

"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.

His connections in Zhejiang and Jiangsu will help the central government with its plan to better coordinate economic development in the Yangtze River Delta.Professor Chen Daoyin of the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law

"Shanghai will be in a better position to spearhead further liberalisation 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.

On Saturday, Mr Li Xi, 61, was appointed the party secretary of Guangdong province, replacing Mr Hu Chunhua, 54.

Mr Li Xi's promotion to the party secretary post in Guangdong takes him from one of China's poorest provinces to its richest.

He became the party chief of Liaoning in 2015.

The rust-belt province, home to large and struggling steel mills, reported negative gross domestic product growth of minus 2.3 per cent last year, but the province's poor economic performance clearly did not affect Mr Li Xi's political fortunes.

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