China troubleshooter moves on from Chongqing post

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 20, 2012 11:15 hrs

The high-ranking troubleshooter who replaced purged politician Bo Xilai in China's mega-city of Chongqing ended his eight-month stint there Tuesday after being promoted to the country's top leadership.

Zhang Dejiang had sought to play down the populist crime-fighting and social policies that made the once-rising star Bo popular as Chongqing's party chief. Zhang, 66, also a vice premier, is now expected to become head of the Chinese legislature following his elevation last week to the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, the country's top panel.

Sun Zhengcai, 49, will replace Zhang in Chongqing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. A former agriculture minister, Sun was most recently party chief in the northeastern province of Jilin, and was promoted to the 25-member Politburo in last week's once-a-decade leadership transition.

Bo was ousted from the Chongqing post earlier this year, and now faces allegations of corruption and obstruction of justice in the murder of a British businessman. His wife was convicted in the murder, and several senior police officers — including Chongqing's police chief — were implicated in the case.

Though Bo has yet to go on trial, China's leadership is eager to move on from the scandal. Bo was long considered a Standing Committee candidate and his purge disrupted the run-up to the leadership transition.

Xi Jinping, installed last Thursday as Communist Party chief to replace outgoing Hu Jintao, stressed in his first speech to the newly reconstituted Politburo over the weekend that the party risks losing its grip on power if it fails to root out corruption.

Xinhua also announced the appointment of Han Zheng as the new Shanghai party chief. Han, 58, worked his way up the Shanghai political hierarchy from a humble start as a warehouse manager to becoming the city's mayor, a post he has held since 2003.

Han is replacing Yu Zhengsheng, 67, who was promoted to the Standing Committee during the party congress that ended last Wednesday.

During Han's tenure as mayor, the city hosted the World Expo in 2010 that showcased China's rise as a modern industrial power. But it was also under his watch that a massive corruption scandal centering on the city's pension fund unfolded and resulted in the purge of the city's former Communist Party chief, Chen Liangyu. Chen was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2008.