Zhang Dejiang is reportedly on good terms with all factions within the party. (Photo/CNS)
His contribution in getting rid of the disgraced politician Bo Xilai may be rewarded with a seat on the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee for Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang after the Communist Party's 18th National Congress next month, according to Duowei News run by the overseas Chinese. Earlier this year, Zhang was parachuted in to Chongqing take over as party secretary from Bo, who had been eyeing a place on China's top decision-making body himself before scandal laid waste his career.
Born in 1947, the 66-year-old Zhang is one of very few Chinese officials with experience of studying in North Korea. When Zhang was the party chief of Yanbian Korean autonomous prefecture in the northeastern province of Jilin, he developed it as a model ethnic minority district with the support of Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese president. After Hu Jintao succeeded Jiang as president, Zhang developed close relations with both Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice President Xi Jinping. With no record of corruption during his time as party secretary of Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, Zhang was nominated the country's third-ranking vice premier in 2008.
Zhang was however criticized by the Chinese public after 40 people died in the Wenzhou high-speed rail disaster last July as the top leader in charge of the country's transport infrastructure. He probably would have lost his shot at a top position following the leadership changeover had Chongqing's former police chief Wang Lijun not unexpectedly turned up at the US consulate in Chengdu in February to dish the dirt on his boss and trigger the collapse of Bo's political ambitions. After the central government made its decision to remove Bo from power in March, Zhang was nominated as his replacement.
In the past six months, Zhang has carried out the orders from Beijing to purge the city of Bo's influence, terminating the campaign to revive Maoist culture which Bo had promoted. The new policy of Chongqing government focuses more on the municipality's economic development. The completed investigation into the Wenzhou train disaster also exonerated Zhang of responsibility for the tragedy.
As Zhang is a figure who is reportedly acceptable to all factions within the party, Duowei News predicted that he has a major chance of becoming chairman of the standing committee of the National People's Congress. This would make Zhang the second- or third-ranked on the Politburo Standing Committee, which is likely to be reduced in size from its current nine members to seven.
Zhang Dejiang 張德江
Wang Lijun 王立軍
Bo Xilai 薄熙來