Did Beijing Floods Claim One More Victim: The City's Mayor?
CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY, UNITED DAILY NEWS, TAIWAN NEWS (Taiwan)
BEIJING - According to Xinhua News, Beijing mayor Guo Jinlong, resigned from his post on July 25 along with the vice-mayor, Ji Lin. The very short report did not give an explanation for the resignation of the city's top officials. Wang Anshun, a Beijing city official since 2007, was appointed acting mayor to replace Guo Jinlong who has been in the post for five years.
Overwhelming rainfall, the heaviest in 60 years, hit China's capital on July 21st last weekend causing at least 37 deaths and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The casualty figures are still preliminary. Some speculated that Guo Jinlong and Ji's resignation is related to mishandling of the flood emergency, according to the United Daily News.
However, some observers said that the Mayor Guo Jinlong had already been tapped for promotion to Communist Party Secretary, and that his resignation was not unexpected. Likewise, Ji Lin has taken up a position as head of the city's Political and Legal Committee.
A source at the municipal government also revealed that Guo's promotion to full-time party secretary was decided a long time ago but finalized today, Central News Agency reported.
The deadly flooding was a major embarrassment for Beijing, which spent billions of dollars modernizing the city just before the 2008 Olympics Games while apparently neglecting its drainage infrastructure, reports the Taiwan News. In the last few days, China's media and netizens have piled on criticism of the city's handling of the disaster relief and its lack of preparedness. Some Beijing inhabitants fear that the municipal government will hide the real casualty statistics as it did while handling the SARS epidemic in 2003.
Like President Hu Jintao, Guo Jinlong had been a former District Party Secretary for Tibet and is in general considered as belonging to Hu's faction.
According to the Central News Agency, Guo's successful hosting of the Olympics 4 years ago as well as his seniority as a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China are his political capital. He is expected to become a Politburo member later this year.