Meng studied engineering at Beijing Normal University during the later stages of the Cultural Revolution before being assigned to Beijing's No.2 Motor Vehicle Plant. He joined the Communist Party of China in July 1972, rising through the ranks of the Beijing municipal Communist Youth League and the car industry. In 1986 he was transferred to senior posts in the hospitality industry, briefly serving as General Manager of the Beijing Hotel group. He then spent four years at the University of Science and Technology of China, alongside Qiang Wei , who has been a consistent colleague. After graduating with an MBA, he became a vice-mayor of Beijing in 1993.
In January 2003 he was appointed deputy Party chief of the CPC Beijing Committee and Mayor of Beijing Municipality. The hit Beijing sometime in March, and Meng is said to have moved patients between hospitals in a botched cover-up that worsened the outbreak. The decided to remove him from his posts on 16 April as part of a double sacking with health minister Zhang Wenkang. The pair were held responsible both for the public health failure and the damage to trust in the Party. The sacking was described by one journalist as "the biggest political earthquake since the time of Tiananmen in 1989." The harsh treatment was privately questioned by other cadres in Beijing, but they were assured that Meng's co-operative attitude would be rewarded. Five months later, he was quietly created deputy director of the South-North Water Transfer Project, reporting to the State Council.
Meng was appointed Vice Secretary of the CPC Shanxi Committee on 30 August 2007 as part of a wider Party reshuffle, and then elected Vice Governor and acting by the Shanxi Provincial People's Congress on 3 September. His fortunes, however, proved short-lived when he resigned on September 14, 2008 after the .
Faction and policies
Meng is a member of the ''tuanpai'' faction of former Communist Youth League officials and has close personal ties to President Hu Jintao. As he stated himself, "My career in the CCYL provided a foundation for my political career later on." At a news conference in January 2003, he portrayed himself as an old friend of Hu, stating "Cadre Jintao was a major leader in the Communist Youth League 20 years ago and some of us worked under his leadership... What I remember most deeply are his fairness, personal integrity and selflessness. Those qualities make up his unique charisma." However, this has been subsequently disputed. Hu allegedly fired his protège in order to remove Zhang, linked to rival Jiang Zemin. Some reports claimed the mayor was "sacrificed" to protect Liu Qi. It has even been claimed that Meng is closer to Liu than Hu. However, most commentators saw Meng's return to power as a sign of the ''tuanpai'' faction's dominance.
The ''People's Daily'' has portrayed Meng as reformist. He claims his CYL experience helps him stay in touch with young people and remain open-minded. He used to live in Beijing's Siheyuan , and kept in touch with his former neighbours, claiming a special understanding of the people. On his election in Taiyuan, he told delegates, "I will do my utmost best to get familiar with Shanxi and become like a native... a great honour, but also comes with great responsibility."