Yu Zhengsheng: A reformer's style

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File photo taken on Oct. 31, 2010 shows Yu Zhengsheng (2nd L,front) visits volunteers working at the Shanghai World Expo in east China's Shanghai Municipality. [Photo/Xinhua]

File photo taken on Oct. 31, 2010 shows Yu Zhengsheng (2nd L,front) visits volunteers working at the Shanghai World Expo in east China's Shanghai Municipality. [Photo/Xinhua]


A year after Yu arrived in Shanghai from Hubei Province, the economic hub of China began to feel the bite of the global financial crisis. The city also faced challenges in economic transformation, as required by the central government.

The economic growth in Shanghai saw a drop from previous double-digit increases during his five-year tenure in the city. Old Yu, however, asked local officials to remain calm and not to be envious of other regions.

"We must push forward economic transformation, but transformation is not as easy as strolling in a park or sunbathing on the seashore," he told local officials.

"We should throw away the concern of our personal gains and losses and have courage to endure temporary days without the spotlight. We must break through barriers one by one to facilitate transformation."

Despite the economic slowdown, the transformation strategy began to work as the city saw rising fiscal revenue, the tertiary industry's account in gross domestic product and other indices that are taken as symbols of economic quality.

Now Shanghai is making efforts to build an international financial center and an international shipping center, both part of the national development strategy.

The city also piloted reform of replacing turnover tax with value-added tax (VAT), seeking a breakthrough in a most significant finance and taxation reform in two decades. This reform was launched in a bid to lower the overall tax burden and boost certain sectors, such as service industries.

As the city's top official, another big test Yu received in Shanghai was the World Expo in 2010. The event that lasted six months attracted more than 73 million visitors from home and abroad, with record daily arrivals of 1.03 million.

Thanks to Yu's instruction of "check and improve our work every day," the Expo ended being an "astounding success," despite disorder during its trial operation. It won applause from Jean-Pierre Lafon, president of the International Exhibitions Bureau (BIE) at its closing ceremony.

When leaving Shanghai upon his election into the top leadership, Yu encouraged officials of the metropolis to always maintain "unwavering confidence, pioneering spirit" to build a better future of Shanghai.

Yu's reform campaign began in Yantai, where he initiated one of the country's first housing reform projects as mayor of the coastal city in Shandong Province in the 1980s.

He won the nickname of "mayor of brands" in Qingdao, another coastal city in Shandong. His strategy of brand image building made quite a few brand names in the city, including Haier and Hisense, two electronic home appliances manufactures well known at home and abroad.

His brainchild of building Qingdao into an international metropolis brought in an influx of foreign investment to the city, one of the 14 coastal frontiers that the central government decided to open to the world in 1984.

As the Party chief in Hubei Province, Yu greatly boosted the development of provincial capital Wuhan and its adjacent cities. He also extended the province's development focus to counties as a way of seeking new growth momentum.

Yu was born in 1945 in Yan'an, the cradle of the CPC, into a revolutionary's family. His parents became ministerial-level officials after New China was founded in 1949.

Yu still remembers his parents' teaching, "Seek personal integrity but never privilege."

He received higher education at the Harbin Military Engineering Institute in Heilongjiang Province. He worked at a radio factory in Zhangjiakou of Hebei Province as a technician for a few years after graduation. He was minister of construction before he was appointed Hubei Province's Party chief.

Yu's wife, Zhang Zhikai, has retired. They have a son.

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