One of Beijing's deputy mayors, Meng Xuenong, has been appointed mayor, replacing Liu Qi, who will stay on as Beijing's Communist Party secretary. Meng was reported by South China Morning Post as being an ally of the new head of the party, Hu Jintao, who is due to replace Jiang Zemin as state president in March. Meng has a background in the city's car industry but he spent the early part of his career in the Communist Youth league, which was headed by Hu in the 1980s. Meng said Beijing's most pressing issues were medical care, housing, employment, pension reform, and law and order.
In a separate development, Long Yongtu, the man who spearheaded China's accession to the World Trade Organisation, is to become the secretary general of the Boao Forum for Asia. The vice-minister of foreign trade and economic co-operation will add credibility to the Hainan-based forum, which was criticised for the poor organisation of last year's annual meeting in April. However, the appointment was perceived as being a sidetracking of Long's political career. Long was overlooked as successor to foreign trade minister Shi Guangsheng – instead, the position will go to another foreign trade vice-minister, Lu Fuyuan.