Continued from page 1

“Their reference for great power status from day one was the United States, unlike Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, who looked toward the Soviet Union,” Mr. Ding said.

After Henan, Mr. Li’s next posting was in the province of Liaoning, where he oversaw a revival that drew foreign investment from BMW and Intel.

One of the province’s largest cities, the port of Dalian, even attracted the glitzy World Economic Forum, where global tycoons mixed with top Chinese leaders and captains of industry.