He stressed that people's congresses and their standing committees at various levels should build themselves into genuine local state power organs, which shoulder various functions empowered by the Constitution and the law and keep close ties with the people.
Zhang was born in Tai'an County in northeast China's Liaoning Province in November 1946. He joined the CPC in January 1971. He graduated from the Department of Economics at Kim Il Sung University in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Zhang is married to Xin Shusen, a senior economist and a member of the 11th CPPCC National Committee. They fell in love when they were working as "educated youths" in the countryside. They have a daughter.
Zhang served as vice president of Yanbian University, deputy secretary of the CPC Yanji Municipal Committee and later deputy secretary of the CPC Yanbian Prefectural Committee, Jilin Province. In 1986, he went to Beijing after being appointed vice minister of civil affairs and deputy secretary of the ministry's Leading Party Members' Group.
Zhang served as Party secretary in four provincial-level regions from 1995 until late last year. These regions include the provinces of Jilin, Zhejiang and Guangdong as well as Chongqing Municipality. He also served as vice premier over the past five years.
Before he was elected to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee on Nov. 15, Zhang was a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee for two consecutive terms.
Zhang has repeatedly emphasized the supervisory role of people's congresses during his political career.
"The NPC and its Standing Committee should conduct supervision in a firm and confident manner," he said in 2003, encouraging them to enhance supervision so as to ensure that the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate and their personnel govern by law and ensure justice.
He has repeatedly called on the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate to consciously accept supervision and improve the mechanism of reporting their work to the NPC and its Standing Committee and informing them of major issues.
Moreover, he has called for efforts to improve the supervisory system by setting up a series of power restraint and supervisory mechanisms featuring intra-Party and public supervision as well as supporting the people's congresses and political advisory bodies to carry out their supervisory power independently in accordance with the law.
All these measures aim to put the power bestowed by the country's 1.3 billion people under better supervision and restraint.
Zhang also believes that the deputies to people's congresses, as the general public's spokespersons, should earnestly fulfill their duty and be models of law abidance.
"Efforts must be made to safeguard the deputies' right to know and expand channels for them to get access to information and to understand government affairs," he said.
SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY
"I'll not leave until the water in the Nenjiang River retreats to a safe level," said Zhang as he was directing flood control and relief work in northeast China's Jilin Province in 1998.
The summer floods of 1998, the worst up to that time since 1954 on the Yangtze River in central China and the most devastating flood ever in northeast China, shocked the government and the people at the time.
People still remember the image of Zhang boarding a motorboat to visit flood-stricken residents in a village in Zhenlai County, Jilin, when he was the province's Party secretary.
When major disasters occurred, Zhang, as Party chief of provincial-level regions, would set out for a disaster site immediately to oversee rescue operations.
Zhang also showed his concern for the people by attending to issues concerning their livelihood, such as employment and social security, during the last five years when he served as vice premier of the State Council, where he was in charge of employment, social security and other important sectors.
On several occasions, Zhang reiterated that getting college graduates employed was a key task and efforts should also be made to help migrant workers from rural areas and disadvantaged groups to find jobs.
Based on extensive research, the State Council introduced a series of policies and measures to promote employment.
Meanwhile, Zhang put special emphasis on vocational training for laborers.
"An entire household could be lifted out of poverty with one family member finishing schooling or getting employed," he said.
Zhang advocated the building of a modern and life-long education system as well as a vocational training system covering all laborers so as to tap human resources in a comprehensive way.
Zhang has attached great importance to the development of the private economy and stressed the importance of a sound policy environment for the sector's development.
"This is not a makeshift plan. Instead, it is a strategic policy," he said.
"The private economy will grow vigorously as long as we provide it with suitable soil and sunshine," he said.
When he worked at the State Council, Zhang actively pushed for building a new-type rural pension system and a pension system for urban residents. Now, the systems cover almost all parts of China.
In addition, when he served as Party secretary of Guangdong, between 2002 and 2007, he was very concerned about the development of the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.
While participating in discussions with NPC deputies from Hong Kong and Macao on March 7, Zhang acknowledged the great achievements made based on the successful implementation of the "one country, two systems" policy since the two regions returned to the motherland.
On March 8, he reiterated the need to strengthen the cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao while participating in a panel discussion with lawmakers from Guangdong Province.
When he served as Guangdong's Party chief, Zhang put forth a creative plan to boost cooperation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta region, which strengthened economic links among nine provincial-level regions on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong and Macao.
"CPC members should foster an image of clean governance, love of the people, pragmatism, plain living, hard work and perseverance," he once wrote in an article.
This is also Zhang's expectation for and portrayal of himself. Endi