In 1970, Zhang Gaoli was assigned to Guangdong Maoming Petroleum Company as a worker. Two important men took a liking to him: Zeng Qinghong, then Deputy Director of Foreign Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Petroleum, and Zhou Yongkang, Manager General of China Petroleum & Natural Gas Co., Ltd. Both are known stalwarts of Jiang Zemin.
According to political insiders, Zhang Gaoli became one of Jiang Zemin’s favorites because of an incident that occurred during the May 1st Labor Day period in 2006. The retired Jiang showed an interest in going sight-seeing at the popular Mount Tai. Disregarding the holiday tourist’s feelings and any inconvenience they may suffer, Zhang Gaoli ordered the sight-seeing area off limits for two days and demanded the subordinate leadership to line up to greet Jiang Zemin, proclaiming him their beloved leader. A large litter, carried by eight laborers, transported Jiang up and down the mountain and Zhang Gaoli himself walked at the rear as an escort. People said it looked like the procession of an ancient emperor.
According to Xin Guizi, chief of the Yunnan Provincial Party Committee Organization, that was Zhang’s most famous “Jiang-brownnosing” move. Zhang’s feting of the former leader was a risk, but it paid off with Zhang’s admission to the Politburo, and now the Standing Committee.
Zhang Gaoli also knows which way the wind blows.
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