Zhang Gaoli: From "poor boy" to political figure

Updated: 2012-12-25 22:12


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Tianjin residents pinned great hopes on Zhang when he became Party chief of the port city neighboring Beijing in March 2007. They hoped the old hand in economic management groomed in the country's reform and opening-up frontiers, such as Shenzhen, would help the city regain its past glory as one of the country's economic hubs.

Zhang did not let them down.

Despite slowdowns in both the Chinese and global economies during the period from 2007 to 2011, Tianjin scored continuous growth in its gross domestic product (GDP), with an annual increase of 16.5 percent for five consecutive years.

The city's per capita GDP growth topped 13,000 U.S. dollars last year, putting it ahead of all others in the country.

More than 1,000 highly polluting and resources-consuming enterprises were shut down during the five years, while hi-tech industries, such as supercomputers, new-type carrier rockets and aircraft, gradually became the city's economic backbone.

The Airbus assembly line in Tianjin has assembled more than 100 A320 planes and has been hailed as a model for China-Europe cooperation.

The city has also become a rotating host of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also known as the Summer Davos Forum.

Zhang's achievements in Tianjin owed much to the experience he amassed while working in both Guangdong and Shandong.

As a provincial leader handling economic issues, he spent more than 10 years in Guangdong and for years served concurrently as Party chief of Shenzhen, the showcase of China's reform, witnessing how new economic policies transformed the province and the city.

When the Asian financial crisis occurred in the late 1990s, Zhang promoted infrastructure improvement in Shenzhen, including airport expansions and subway construction, aiming to narrow the development gap between the boomtown and neighboring Hong Kong.

After he was transferred to Shandong and became the province's governor and, later, its Party chief, Zhang directed his focus toward the development of foreign trade, hi-tech industry and the private economy.

In 2006, GDP in Shandong exceeded 2 trillion yuan (256 billion U.S. dollars), second only to that of Guangdong.