New Chongqing chief to officials: Banish Bo Xilai's 'evil legacy'

Top: Chongqing's new party boss Chen Min'er is a rising political star and seen as a potential new member of the party's elite Standing Committee. Above: Bo Xilai had been a contender for top leadership before being felled in a corruption scandal tha
Left: Chongqing's new party boss Chen Min'er is a rising political star and seen as a potential new member of the party's elite Standing Committee. Right: Bo Xilai had been a contender for top leadership before being felled in a corruption scandal that also saw his wife jailed for killing a British businessman.

He takes aim at city's jailed ex-party chief and demands that officials heed anti-corruption watchdog's feedback

BEIJING • The new leader of the south-western Chinese city of Chongqing has demanded that officials banish the "evil legacy" of its former party chief Bo Xilai, a man jailed for life in 2013 after a dramatic corruption scandal, state media said yesterday.

Mr Chen Min'er was appointed Chongqing's Communist Party boss last Saturday, unceremoniously replacing Mr Sun Zhengcai, who, sources have told Reuters, is now under investigation. The government has yet to comment on what is happening with Mr Sun.

Bo had been a contender for top leadership before being felled in the scandal that first came to light when his police chief Wang Lijun briefly took refuge in the United States consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu, kicking off a series of events that also saw Bo's wife jailed for killing a British businessman.

Sources with ties to the leadership and foreign diplomats say Mr Sun has been out of favour after the party's anti-corruption watchdog in February criticised Chongqing authorities for not doing enough to root out Bo's influence.

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Meeting city officials, Mr Chen told them that they must "unify their thought" on the feedback the party graft-buster gave the last time it inspected the city, a reference to the February report. "Resolutely eliminate the evil legacy of Bo and Wang thought from thinking, politics and work style," the official Chongqing Daily paraphrased Mr Chen as saying on Monday, using an unusually strong expression that can also refer to syphilis. "Jointly create a pure political ecosystem and good environment for work."

Mr Sun was not mentioned in the February report.

Mr Chen is a rising political star close to President Xi Jinping, and is seen as a potential new member of the party's elite Standing Committee when it is unveiled after a reshuffle at the once-every-five-years party congress in the autumn.

He called on officials to recognise the importance that Mr Xi attached to Chongqing's growth and take that support as "strong motivation" to do their job well.

Mr Chen's comments came as China's top graft-buster, Mr Wang Qishan, launched a scathing attack on the ruling Communist Party's members on Monday, saying party political culture remained "unhealthy" and governance weak even after five years of renewed effort to fight the problem.

Chongqing is one of China's most important cities. Global electronics brands including Hewlett-Packard, Foxconn, Acer and Asus have operations there, lured by tax breaks, cheap labour and land, plus a developed supply chain and logistics. It makes a third of the world's laptops.

After his appointment as Chongqing party chief in 2007, Bo turned it into a showcase of revolution-inspired "red"culture and his policies for egalitarian, state-led growth. He also won national attention with a crackdown on organised crime, led by his police chief Wang.

Bo's brash self-promotion irked some leaders in Beijing. But his populist ways and crime clean-up were welcomed by many of Chongqing's 30 million residents, and others who hoped that he could take his leftist-shaded policies nationwide.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'New Chongqing chief to officials: Banish Bo Xilai's 'evil legacy''. Print Edition | Subscribe