Beijing mayor keeps post ahead of tipped transfer

 
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BEIJING, May 22 (Reuters) Beijing mayor Wang Qishan kept his job as the city's deputy Communist Party secretary, state media said today, a move that indicated his tipped shift to head the southern province Guangdong may happen later this year.

The appointment was announced at the end of the Chinese capital's party congress, which also re-elected the current party secretary Liu Qi, Xinhua news agency reported. Beijing is a key post in the ruling Communist Party's hierarchy, especially as the city prepares to host the Olympic Games in 2008.

The Chinese Communist Party started a reshuffle of provincial leaders late last year, ahead of its 17th National Congress this autumn when President Hu Jintao will further consolidate power and tap a new generation of leaders.

Sources with ties to the party leadership said Wang was likely to be named party boss of Guangdong, a booming export-driven province, later this year before the congress.

Wang was also likely to join the Politburo -- the party's ruling body -- at the congress.

''For Wang Qishan, membership of the Politburo is more important than running the Olympics,'' said one source.

The number of Beijing's deputy party bosses was reduced from three to two, reflecting the party's drive to streamline bureaucracy.

Wang Anshun, a candidate to take over Wang as mayor who was just moved from financial capital Shanghai in April, was the other deputy party boss, Xinhua said.

Wang took over the capital's reins in 2003 after his predecessor Meng Xuenong was sacked for covering up the SARS epidemic. He has been grappling with the city's crowded roads and ambitious infrastructure plans ahead of 2008.

REUTERS SS VC1902

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