BEIJING (Reuters) - The new leader of the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing has demanded officials banish the “evil legacy” of its former party chief Bo Xilai, state media said on Tuesday, a man jailed for life in 2013 after a dramatic corruption scandal.
Chen Miner was suddenly appointed Chongqing’s Communist Party boss on Saturday, unceremoniously replacing Sun Zhengcai, who sources have told Reuters is now under investigation. The government has yet to comment on what is happening with 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 U.S. consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu, kicking off a series of events that also saw Bo’s wife jailed for murdering a British businessman.
Sources with ties to the leadership and foreign diplomats say Sun has been out of favor after the party’s anti-corruption watchdog in February criticized Chongqing authorities for not doing enough to root out Bo’s influence.
Meeting city officials, 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 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,” Chen added.
Sun was not mentioned in the report.
Chen is a rising political star close to President Xi Jinping, and is himself seen as a potential new member of the party’s elite Standing Committee when it is unveiled after a reshuffle at a once-every-five-years party congress in the autumn.
Chen called on officials to recognize the great importance Xi attached to Chongqing’s development and take that support as “strong motivation” to do their job well.
Chongqing is one of China’s most important cities. Global electronics brands including Hewlett-Packard, Foxconn, Acer and Asus all have operations there, lured by tax breaks, cheap labor and land, plus a developed supply chain and logistics. The region makes a third of the world’s laptops.
After his appointment as party chief of Chongqing 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 organized crime, lead by his police chief Wang.
His 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, as well as others who hoped that Bo could take his leftist-shaded policies nationwide.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Kim Coghill