hanghai now has a new acting mayor and you’ll never guess who he has connections with.
On Monday, Shanghai’s rubber-stamp legislature appointed Gong Zheng (龚正) as the city’s new acting mayor.
The 59-year-old cadre worked for more than two decades in China’s customs agency, rising all the way up to the level of deputy chief in 2003 before stepping into a new role as Vice Governor of Zhejiang province in 2008.
Xi Jinping ran Zhejiang from 2003 to 2007. While Gong never technically crossed paths with Xi, he did work with and under those officials that Xi had appointed from his own power base who later went on to higher posts.
Gong himself then went on to become the Communist Party Chief of Hangzhou, the provincial capital of Zhejiang, in 2013 and the Governor of Shandong province in 2017.
Here he is, in that compacity, feeling some wool at an Australian trade fair:
Gong is said to be “open-minded” and well-connected. His own customs experience and ties with Beijing were reportedly instrumental in getting Hangzhou designated as an “online free trade zone.” Hangzhou is, of course, the home base of e-commerce giant Alibaba.
He also speaks English reasonably well.
Gong steps into a position that was vacated by previous Shanghai mayor, Ying Yong, when he was appointed Party Secretary of Hubei province in February in a leadership reshuffle that was brought on by public anger over the government response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ying also worked in Zhejiang province, rising up the ranks while Xi was provincial party secretary.
In Chinese politics, as in life, it’s all about who you know.