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Zhang Dejiang celebrates Children's Day in Chongqing on May 30. Photos by Xinhua
Zhang Dejiang visits flood victims in Zhenlai county, Jilin province, in 1998.
Zhang Dejiang, while working for the Ministry of Civil Affairs, chats with a 100-year-old woman at a nursing home in a village in Henan province.
Zhang Dejiang inspects a private company in Zhejiang province on Oct 24, 1998.
Vice-premier shows sense of responsibility and talent for dealing with dilemmas through series of successful rescue operations
From an "educated youth" in the poor countryside to Party chief of economically booming provinces and then to the position of vice-premier, Zhang Dejiang has made a steady advance into the top decision-making body of the Communist Party of China.
Zhang, 66, was elected a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee on Nov 15.
He also serves as vice-premier of the State Council, where he is in charge of industry, transport, social security and other important sectors. In addition, he is director of the State Council Work Safety Committee.
Before his elevation to the top leadership in November, Zhang recently reshaped the image of Southwest China's metropolis of Chongqing, maintained its social stability and pushed its economic development as the municipality's Party chief, a post he held between March and November this year.
"Governing for the people" has been the principle Zhang has abided by ever since he began his political career.
"No matter how high our cadres' posts are, we are still members of the general public. We must always bear the people in mind," he has said.
Sense of responsibility
To ensure the safety of overseas Chinese nationals after Libya's situation deteriorated drastically in mid-February 2011, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council launched the largest-ever evacuation undertaken by the People's Republic of China since it was founded. Within 12 days, a total of 35,860 Chinese citizens were safely brought back to the motherland by sea, land and air.
The commander-in-chief of this "national operation" was none other than Vice-Premier Zhang Dejiang.
It was a massive undertaking to safely move, under emergency circumstances, more than 30,000 people spread widely across different areas of a country with an area of 1.76 million sq km. Entrusted with the task at the critical moment, Zhang called an emergency meeting to order the Foreign Ministry, the Commerce Ministry, the Transport Ministry, the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China to immediately launch the large-scale withdrawal. That enabled the world to witness China's lofty ideal of "diplomacy serving the people".
As vice-premier in charge of industry, Zhang has repeatedly urged the adjustment and optimization of the industrial structure, improvement of product quality and enhancement of industrial competitiveness. He has also stressed that the deepening of reform of State-owned enterprises must center on the core task of ensuring the preservation and appreciation of State-owned assets.
China's SOEs have grown at a fast pace in recent years, with their number on the Fortune Global 500 list increasing from 20 in 2007 to 54 in 2011. Meanwhile, notable achievements have been made in the reform of SOEs. Take the corporate system reform, for example: More than 90 percent of SOEs have so far completed reform in corporate governance and their shareholding system. The percentage of centrally administered enterprises that had completed these reforms by the end of 2011 was 72.3 percent, compared with 64.5 percent in 2007.
When major disasters occurred, Zhang, as director of the State Council Work Safety Committee, would set out for an accident site immediately to oversee rescue operations, no matter how far away the site was and no matter how tough the conditions were.
On March 28, 2010, the Wangjialing Coal Mine in North China's Shanxi province flooded, but Zhang reached the mine that very night to supervise rescue work. In the end, 115 miners were pulled out of the shaft alive in a "miracle" rescue.
Again, after the fatal high-speed train crash in the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou on July 23, 2011, Zhang arrived at the scene quickly and put saving people's lives as the top priority. When he saw the wreckage of train carriages piled in a pit, he gave clear instructions that no one should bury the wreckage, and the accident site and the train carriages should be properly preserved in order to guarantee investigation and analysis of the cause of the accident.
A string of successful rescue operations has demonstrated Zhang's personal quality of responsibility and his talent for handling complicated issues.
As vice-premier, Zhang has made many overseas visits. In July 2011, he led a delegation to visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. He attended the commemorative activities of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between China and the DPRK. He also visited his alma mater, Kim Il-sung University.
Zhang served as Party chief for four provincial-level regions from 1995 until late this year. These regions included the provinces of Jilin, Zhejiang and Guangdong, as well as Chongqing municipality.
While he served as Party chief of Guangdong, a booming economic province in South China, between 2002 and 2007, the province's GDP grew from 1.35 trillion yuan ($216.5 billion) to 3.1 trillion yuan. In addition, the quality of Guangdong's economic growth and its independent innovative capability further improved, and the province took the national lead in reform, opening-up and economic development.
In Guangdong, Zhang put forth a creative plan to boost cooperation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta region, which strengthened economic links among nine provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.
In June 2004, the Pan-Pearl River Delta Regional Cooperation and Development Forum was successfully held in Hong Kong, Macao and Guangzhou. With Zhang's push, the largest project of regional cooperation since the founding of the People's Republic of China was unveiled.
When Zhang served as Party chief of Jilin, an agricultural province in Northeast China, between 1995 and 1998, the province's grain yield increased each year, and its food per capita, transfer volume, export volume and marketed ratio consistently ranked first place in the nation.
A few farmers once wrote to him to express their worries about grain prices. In response, Zhang braved snowy weather to visit farmers in a local county, pledging adherence to the protective pricing policy. He also assured them they would never face a scenario in which grain output would rise but farmers' income would fall.
Zhang has attached great importance to the development of the private economy and has a deep understanding of its role in propelling a region's development.
"Numerous practices have proved that where there is a robust private economy, there is a developed economy and well-off people," he has said.
In Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, the private sector accounted for more than 70 percent of the economies in both provinces during his tenure as Party chief there.
"The private economy will grow vigorously as long as we offer it suitable soil and sunshine," he has said.
When the global economy experienced a slowdown, Zhang sharply perceived the crisis private businesses would face. While participating in a panel discussion of the Zhejiang delegation to the annual session of the National People's Congress in March this year, Zhang said: "Private capital is like water, and the real economy is like cropland. It is better to dig a well to bring benefits to both sides than just allow the water to flow beneath the cropland." He reminded Zhejiang's businesspeople not to be beguiled by short-term profits but keep on operating physical businesses well.
Not long after he arrived in Chongqing as the city's Party chief in March, he called a special meeting on boosting the private economy. He put forward the goal that the private economy should contribute 65 percent to the city's GDP by 2015. He also frequently solicited the opinions of representatives of private businesses from different sectors regarding how the government could serve them better, which won the applause of those invited.
Zhang was born in Tai'an county in Northeast China's Liaoning province in November 1946. In 1968, he was sent to Luozigou Commune in Wangqing county of neighboring Jilin province to work as an "educated youth" - a term referring to young intellectuals dispatched to the countryside from cities to learn from farmers during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76). From 1972 to 1975, Zhang studied at Yanbian University and later served as deputy secretary of the General Party Branch of the university's Department of Korean Language. From 1978 to 1980, he studied at Kim Il-sung University in the DPRK.
The experience of working as an "educated youth" tempered Zhang's personality so that he learned to endure hardship and hard work, and it also gave him a deep understanding of grassroots people and their work. An old accountant who worked with Zhang at the time recalled that he was very hardworking and enjoyed high prestige among the "educated youths". Because of his excellent qualities, Zhang became the first among more than 100 "educated youths" in the commune to join the Party.
In 1983, 37-year-old Zhang left his post as vice-president of Yanbian University and embarked on his political career by serving as deputy chief of the CPC Yanji Municipal Committee and later deputy chief of the CPC Yanbian Prefectural Committee. In 1986, he went to Beijing after being appointed vice-minister of civil affairs and deputy secretary of the ministry's Leading Party Members' Group.
Zhang well understands the pain and hardship of the general public due to his many years of working in grassroots organizations, and he has a profound affection for the general public. When he served as vice-minister of civil affairs, he often went to different areas in the country to oversee disaster relief and poverty alleviation work and do good deeds for the public. He has said civil affairs work is an important component of the social management system and doing a good job in this regard can help create a stable and unified social environment for reform and opening-up.
When he worked at the State Council, he actively pushed for building a new-type rural pension system and a pension system for urban residents. As of now, the systems cover almost all parts of China.
While working in Guangdong, he once said that projects should be blocked if project managers failed to get required permits for land appropriation, or failed to make compensation agreements with farmers who would lose the land, or failed to put the compensation payments in the hands of the farmers. Zhang's order won wide praise among the public. Media reports said behind Zhang's tough instruction was the idea of governing for the people, the awareness of administration based on law and on an open and transparent administrative style.
Zhang also worked as chairman of the Standing Committee of the Jilin Provincial People's Congress, the local legislative body, and has always attached great importance to legislative work. He once said: "The socialist economy is an economy under the rule of law. Likewise, the socialist harmonious society must be a society under the rule of law."
When he served as Party chief of Guangdong, Zhang said that Guangdong, as the pioneer of reform and opening-up, must take the national lead not only in economic development but also in pushing for the building of a law-based province and a civilized, law-based social environment.
Zhang is married to Xin Shusen, a senior economist and a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. They have a daughter.
(China Daily 12/26/2012 page5)