China's Chongqing mayor says has banished Bo Xilai's influence

Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:33am EST
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By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - The mayor of the scandal-plagued southwestern Chinese metropolis of Chongqing said on Saturday that local authorities had banished the malign influence of the city's former top official Bo Xilai, and vowed never to never allow a repeat of his crimes.

Once a contender for China's top leadership, Bo was ousted in the biggest political scandal in two decades last year following his wife's murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.

A former commerce minister, Bo turned sprawling, haze-covered Chongqing into a showcase for his mix of populist policies and bold spending plans that won support from leftists yearning for a charismatic leader. Other Communist Party leaders viewed him as an attention-seeking loose cannon.

Bo, 63, was widely seen as pursuing a powerful spot on the party's elite inner core before his career unraveled after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate for more than 24 hours in February and alleged that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered Heywood with poison.

Speaking at the opening session of the city's largely rubber stamp legislature, Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan, who had served with Bo when Bo was the city's party boss, described the past year's events as "extraordinary".

"Against such an exceptional backdrop and complex circumstances, we resolutely followed the decisions of the party ... and worked hard to banish the serious impact of the Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun cases," Huang said, according to a transcript of his speech carried by Chinese news websites.

The experience of the past five years showed that only by following the party's leadership could Chongqing enjoy real success, both economically and socially, he added.

"Otherwise, our work will be seriously harmed," Huang said.   Continued...

China's former Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai looks on during a meeting at the annual session of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in this March 6, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Files