Chapter 152 – Secretary Wu Zhang
The newly appointed municipal party secretary of Shanghai was named Wu Zhang. He was assigned by military authorities.
The influence within Shanghai was intricate and complex. If someone else had taken over as the municipal party secretary, they might not have established themselves as quickly as Wu Zhang did. However, Wu Zhang was different. Throughout two terms of military and political leadership in the entire country, it was known that Wu Zhang was an old associate of Old Master Sheng, a prominent figure in Beijing. He was also classmates with Old Master Sheng’s son, Sheng Guoqi.
With this relationship, combined with Wu Zhang’s reputation among the public and his decisive methods, he managed to firmly establish himself in Shanghai in less than half a month.
Furthermore, due to his connection with the Sheng family, many people in Shanghai hoped to establish relationships with Wu Zhang.
However, Wu Zhang was upright, principled, and focused on practical matters. Those who managed to meet him were all due to work-related needs. Privately, Wu Zhang didn’t attend any social gatherings and refused to participate in any personal events.
As a result, the wealthy and powerful individuals who wanted to curry favor with Wu Zhang couldn’t find any opportunities.
This was precisely the chance they had been waiting for, the occasion of Wu Zhang’s 60th birthday celebration.
Given that it was his 60th birthday, many expected Wu Zhang to host a grand celebration. Even in private circles, a 60th birthday would typically involve several banquet tables. Moreover, for someone of Wu Zhang’s stature as the municipal party secretary of Shanghai and a senior official at the departmental level, it was inconceivable that his celebration would be simple. It simply didn’t match his status.
As various factions within Shanghai prepared to shine at Wu Zhang’s birthday celebration, he unexpectedly announced that, in response to the national call for frugality and thrift, he wouldn’t hold a grand celebration. He would treat it as a regular birthday and celebrate with some close relatives and friends. Many people had already prepared gifts for the occasion, only to find themselves frustrated by Wu Zhang’s unconventional decision.
Nevertheless, many still wanted to offer their blessings to Wu Zhang on his birthday. They tried to obtain invitations through various connections. However, Wu Zhang had only prepared a few invitations, and those without a significant background couldn’t obtain them. Among all the invitations distributed, aside from the ones sent by the Wu family, only Old Master Chen’s invitation, obtained through the connections of the Chen family in Beijing, made it to the list.
Wu Zhang’s insistence on simplicity was indeed genuine. Even the venue for the celebration was his own home. The house was assigned to him when he became the municipal party secretary. It wasn’t in a luxurious community or a lavish villa. It was a three-story house within the compound of the municipal party committee, retaining a layout from the previous century in terms of both its decorations and other aspects. Anyone who saw it would think that Wu Zhang, the municipal party secretary, truly embodied the spirit of thrift.
Upon arriving at the municipal party committee compound, Wei Chen and Wei Yan were stopped by the guards at the entrance. After showing their invitation, the guards carefully searched them for any dangerous items before allowing them to enter.
Even inside the compound, Wei Yan couldn’t shake off his sense of disbelief. He couldn’t understand how Wei Chen managed to get hold of the invitation. Although he was puzzled, he refrained from asking and followed Wei Chen as they headed towards Wu Zhang’s residence.
Wu Zhang’s secretary had already been informed of the guests’ arrival and was waiting at the door. Upon seeing Wei Chen and Wei Yan, despite not recognizing these two young men, the secretary welcomed them with a smile and received the birthday gift that Wei Chen handed over.
“Wei Chen, you’re here!” Following the secretary was a middle-aged man, none other than Wu Zailin, the Free Spirit shop manager.
“Mr. Wu,” Wei Chen courteously greeted Wu Zailin. From the moment Wei Chen received the invitation from Wu Zailin’s hands, he had already guessed his identity. Thus, upon seeing Wu Zailin here, Wei Chen wasn’t surprised.
The secretary, upon witnessing this, realized that these two young men were invited by the party secretary’s son.
Knowing this fact didn’t change the secretary’s demeanor significantly. With composure, Wu Zailin inquired, “Where’s junior brother?”
“Li Li isn’t feeling well, so I didn’t bring him along,” Wei Chen replied calmly.
Wu Zailin fell silent. He looked at the gift in the secretary’s hand as though nothing were amiss. He also understood the reason behind Chen Li’s absence now.
Wu Zailin couldn’t help but hold Wei Chen in higher regard. He knew Wei Chen had guessed his identity. With Chen Li as his junior, it would be effortless for Wei Chen to approach the Wu family and establish connections with them, given Chen Li’s status.
However, in reality, Wei Chen didn’t choose this path. He opted not to take this shortcut. Even after learning that his father liked Chen Li’s art, he didn’t have Chen Li create a painting as a gift for the occasion. Instead, he carefully selected a different present. This choice alone made Wei Chen someone worth befriending. Whether he was upright wasn’t clear, but he was undoubtedly straightforward.
Wu Zailin thought that Wei Chen’s decision stemmed from two reasons. Firstly, Wei Chen had confidence in his abilities and believed that his father would entrust him with the project at hand, secondly, Wei Chen cherished Chen Li.
Yes, these details revealed Wei Chen’s affection for Chen Li. Regardless of the situation and the convenience Chen Li could bring to Wei Chen, he never exploited Chen Li. Even using just a painting as leverage was something Wei Chen was unwilling to do. Full of sentiment and integrity, he was truly an open and honorable person.
After this interaction, Wu Zailin’s assessment of Wei Chen was firm: a person of value and integrity. Perhaps it was individuals like him who could earn his father’s trust and secure the A Zone project.
Wei Yan had always considered himself an inconspicuous figure. However, after overhearing the conversation between Wei Chen and Wu Zailin, he couldn’t help but feel surprised. Chen Li was actually the junior brother of Secretary Wu’s son? The world was indeed fantastical. To others, a person with autism who couldn’t handle much was now the junior brother of Secretary Wu’s son? If he hadn’t heard it with his own ears, he wouldn’t have believed it.
Wu Zailin personally ushered the two into the living room. At this moment, Wu Zhang was engaged in conversation with some old friends and comrades. Seeing Wu Zailin entering with guests, he understood that these were the individuals Wu Zailin personally invited, saying that it was for the introduction of his junior brother.
Wu Zhang couldn’t determine which of the two was Wu Zailin’s junior brother as neither of them seemed the part. However, when Wei Chen and Wei Yan approached, he exchanged greetings with them.
Wu Zailin introduced the two to Wu Zhang, “Dad, this is Wei Chen, and this is Wei Yan.”
“May Secretary Wu enjoy good fortune like the long flowing water of the East Sea, and may your life be as everlasting as the pine trees of Nanshan Mountain,” Wei Chen said in a deep and composed voice.
Wei Yan put aside his usual gallant demeanor and solemnly offered his wishes.
Upon confirming that Wei Chen and Wei Yan were indeed from the Wei family, Wu Zhang’s expression grew serious.
Wu Zhang had a military background, and even though he had been out of the military for many years, he still carried the iron-blooded aura of a soldier. His posture was erect, his eyes gleamed with determination, resembling a sharp sword. However, his years in the political arena had honed a scabbard around this sword, sheathing its sharpness and cold glint. On ordinary days, Wu Zhang appeared stern and rarely smiled, but once the scabbard was removed, the sword’s edge would resurface, radiating an overwhelming aura of authority and pressure.
Whenever Wu Zhang looked at Wu Zailin this way, Wu Zailin felt a bit apprehensive. However, when Wu Zailin glanced at Wei Chen and Wei Yan, he noticed that the two were unaffected. Wei Chen’s composure didn’t surprise Wu Zailin, but he didn’t expect Wei Yan, who usually lacked presence, to be unfazed. This aspect surprised Wu Zailin.
‘They are indeed from the Wei family,’ Wu Zailin thought to himself.
Of course, on this special occasion, Wu Zhang wouldn’t want to embarrass the two juniors. Moreover, the respectful attitudes of Wei Chen and Wei Yan in front of him made him view the two juniors with a slightly higher regard. Wu Zhang waved his hand to signal Wu Zailin to host Wei Chen and Wei Yan, while he continued conversing with his old comrades.
Shortly afterward, the landline in the living room rang. The secretary answered it, and upon hearing the voice, his attitude immediately turned respectful. After ending the call, he approached Wu Zhang’s ear and whispered something.
Upon hearing this, Wu Zhang stood up instantly. His feet landed on the ground with a firm thud, and his whole body tensed, almost saluting.
“Zailin,” Wu Zhang called Wu Zailin back, asking him to join in welcoming the distinguished guest arriving that day.
Seeing Wu Zhang’s demeanor, Wu Zailin already guessed who the guest was. He quickly apologized to Wei Chen and Wei Yan and left the room.
Wu Zhang’s old comrades wanted to follow suit, but they realized that such a grand entourage might not be appropriate. Nevertheless, they couldn’t resist rising to their feet as well. They stood upright, awaiting the arrival of the distinguished guest.
Wei Chen and Wei Yan exchanged glances, and both had a vague idea of who the guest might be. They found it somewhat astonishing.
If their speculations were correct, the guest must hold a high position, given their appearance at Wu Zhang’s birthday celebration. This gesture was a way of standing by Wu Zhang, implicitly conveying to the various powers within Shanghai that Wu Zhang was their ally.
Wei Chen and Wei Yan’s guesses were on point. The distinguished guest was indeed from the Sheng family in the capital city, specifically Old Master Sheng himself. However, he didn’t enter the premises and only met briefly at the entrance. After all, his advanced age made prolonged stays uncomfortable.
A few minutes later, Wu Zhang returned. At this moment, he was like a drawn sword, exuding a sharp and powerful aura.
Accompanying Wu Zhang were two other young men. They walked beside him with smiles on their faces. Though friendly, the fact that they walked alongside Wu Zhang indicated that their status wasn’t low. They might even have some connection to the previous distinguished guest.
One of them, Wei Chen recognized. It was the same freshman at Q University who answered his question perfectly when he was in class at Q University.