Thursday, 15 March 2012

Premier Wen chides Chongqing

Party leader says authorities must ‘learn lessons’ of Wang Lijun scandal and that results of inquiry will be made public - but he doesn’t mention Bo Xilai


Guanyu 道 said...

Premier Wen chides Chongqing

Party leader says authorities must ‘learn lessons’ of Wang Lijun scandal and that results of inquiry will be made public - but he doesn’t mention Bo Xilai

Shi Jiangtao in Beijing
15 March 2012

Premier Wen Jiabao rebuked Chongqing’s municipal leadership yesterday over an incident last month in which its deputy mayor sought refuge in a US consulate.

It was the first public comment by a top Communist Party leader on a scandal that sparked international headlines.

Wen’s remarks at his annual press conference added further uncertainty to the future of Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, whose chances of being promoted to the party’s top echelon during a leadership shake-up this autumn have been seen as waning since early February.

“The current party committee and government of Chongqing must seriously reflect upon and learn lessons from the Wang Lijun incident,” Wen said in a raised tone while waving a pen in his hand.

His comments marked a rare departure from past practice in mainland politics. He is the only member of the highest-level Politburo Standing Committee to speak out about the scandal involving Wang, Bo’s former right-hand man, who took refuge in the US consulate in Chengdu, Sichuan, on February 6.

Speaking at his last annual press conference as premier, Wen said that an investigation into Wang’s case ordered by the central government had made progress, and that the case would be handled strictly in accordance with the law.

“We will give the people the results of the investigation and the handling [of the case], so that it can withstand the test of law and history,” he said. The question to Wen about the scandal was raised at the end of the three-hour press event, broadcast live on television, radio and the internet. Although he appeared prepared for the sensitive nature of the issue, he presented a stern look and covered his mouth with his hand when the question was raised.

He first acknowledged the achievements made by successive governments of the southwestern municipality, established in 1997, over the years. He then paused a few seconds, raised his right hand and launched into his criticism of the current leadership, without singling out Bo by name.

Political analysts said Wen’s critical remarks, apparently directed at Bo and Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan, appeared to be based on a consensus of the top leadership.

Professor Zhu Lijia, of the Chinese Academy of Governance, said it was unlikely that what Wen said represented his own opinions.

“Given the fact that it is such a sensitive issue happening at such a sensitive moment, Wen must have spoken on behalf of the entire leadership,” Zhu said. Professor Yuan Weishi, a historian at Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University, also noted that it would be unimaginable for Wen, known for his prudence and political tact, to make random comments without seeking consensus within the leadership.

Wen also used his last annual press conference to attack the resurgence of Maoist leftists, in a move widely interpreted by analysts as targeting Bo’s ultra-conservative “red culture campaign” over the past four years in Chongqing. In response to a separate question, he specifically mentioned a historical document, the “Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party”, which was adopted in 1981 and is best known for a rare admission that Mao Zedong should be held responsible for the tragedy of the Cultural Revolution.

“Any practices we take must be based on experience, and on lessons we have gained from history, and serve the people’s interests,” Wen said. Beijing-based political observer Chen Ziming said that, without mentioning the so-called Chongqing model by name, Wen showed his disapproval of Bo’s pet theory, which has been touted as his main political asset in his contention for a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee later this year.

Guanyu 道 said...

“It is too obvious that Wen was commenting on the Chongqing model with an underlying message that Bo must also reflect upon his anti-mafia and red-song-singing campaigns,” he said.

In a similar remark, Wen warned the country would be at risk of seeing a repeat of the Cultural Revolution without “urgent” political reform.

He admitted that the mistakes of the Cultural Revolution and the impact of feudalism had not been eliminated, which had partly aided a recent revival of Maoist leftism. “Without the success of political structural reform ... a historical tragedy like the Cultural Revolution could occur again,” he said. “Each party member and cadre should feel a sense of urgency.”