Xinjiang reshuffle carefully studied, vice-president says
URUMQI - The former governor of Hunan province, Zhou Qiang, 50, has become the country's third-youngest provincial Party chief.
Zhou was appointed Party secretary of Hunan on Sunday. He replaced Zhang Chunxian, who took over the position of Party chief of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Saturday from 66-year-old Wang Lequan.
Wang, who headed Xinjiang for 15 years, was named deputy secretary of the Committee of Political Science and Law under the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Saturday.
Zhou is the third provincial Party chief in the country born after 1960.
Hu Chunhua, Party secretary of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and Sun Zhengcai, Party chief of Jilin province, were both born in 1963.
Zhou became Hunan governor in 2006 after Zhang was appointed Party chief of Hunan in 2005. Prior to that, Zhou served as the first secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China.
On Saturday, Zhang Chunxian was named Party secretary of Xinjiang at a meeting of top regional leaders in the regional capital of Urumqi. Vice-President Xi Jinping was also at the meeting.
Xi said the Party's decision was "carefully studied" and the 56-year-old Zhang is suitable for the position because he is liberal-minded and innovative.
He also praised Wang for "maintaining social stability in the region, safeguarding national unity and combating separatism".
Wang was modest about the vice-president's praise and said he was just doing his job.
Xinjiang's new Party chief, Zhang, who has visited the region four times, promised to make its development his top priority.
"I am very confident about the region's future with the support of the central government," Zhang said.
During Zhang's term in Hunan, many people knew him as the "Internet Secretary" because he valued public opinion online.
He is known for looking to the Internet as a platform to link the government and the people.
Zhang was also minister of transportation from 2002 to 2005 before he became Party secretary of Hunan.
His appointment was announced one day after the CPC Central Committee's Political Bureau held a meeting to discuss plans to boost economic development and maintain long-term social stability in Xinjiang.
The meeting, presided over by President Hu Jintao, stressed that economic and social development in Xinjiang should be pushed forward in a sound and speedy manner. Guaranteeing and improving people's livelihoods should be given priority so that all ethnic groups in the region can live a more prosperous life, Hu said.
The announcement of Xinjiang's new Party chief has become the top topic of interest in the region.
"I hope Zhang brings something fresh to Xinjiang," said Uygur businessman Toksenjon.