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Ex-Tibet communist chief to be Beijing mayor in shift at start of President Hu's new term

December 3, 2007

The Associated Press

Thursday, November 29, 2007

BEIJING: Tibet's former Communist Party chief has been nominated to be
mayor of China's capital Beijing, state media reported Friday, part of a
reshuffling of top positions following President Hu Jintao's
reappointment last month as national party leader.

Guo Jinlong was nominated as the only candidate at a city government
meeting on Thursday, the newspaper Beijing Morning Post and other media
outlets said. The move virtually assures him of assuming the new post.

Guo would replace Wang Qishan, a former state banker assigned to restore
public confidence in Beijing during the 2003 SARS outbreak and prepare
the city to stage next year's Summer Olympic Games.

As mayor, he would be chiefly responsible for administration as the
city's second-most powerful figure behind municipal Communist Party
Secretary Liu Qi.

The personnel changes follow the party's reaffirmation of its key goal
of sustaining the economy's torrid expansion while channeling more
growth to lagging rural and interior areas and construct a better safety
net for the poor.

The Olympics pose a special challenge to Beijing because of the enormous
prestige attached to the games. While venue construction is on course,
Beijing is still dealing with the challenges of traffic, pollution and
how to deal with protesters and the international media under tight
communist restrictions.

Guo, known for his experience in economic policy, served as Tibet's
party chief for a relatively brief three years from 2000 and was
regarded as a moderate compared to his hardline predecessor and successor.

While maintaining tight control over the restive Himalayan region, Guo
was more accessible to Western media in what was seen as a reflection of
China's confidence in its Tibet policies.

Wang, 59, was elevated to the party's key Politburo October's congress,
making it likely he would be reassigned to one of two vacant vice
premierships when the government reshuffles posts in March, if not sooner.
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