As expected from a man who studied economics at Kim Il Sung University in North Korea, Zhang, 66, is considered a hardliner with deep affection for China’s often inefficient state enterprises. The political prospects of the son of a former PLA major general brightened earlier this year when he was tapped to replace disgraced politician Bo Xilai as party chief of Chongqing, the sprawling megalopolis in Western China. In a prior incarnation, Zhang presided over Guangdong province when the southern region was grappling with a deadly outbreak of the SARS virus. His response? Gagging the media and hiding the extent of the health scare.
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