China’s leaders put on a show of unity yesterday after their damning accusations against disgraced politician Bo Xilai (薄熙來), whose expulsion from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) drew an outcry from leftist supporters in a sign of the rifts his prosecution could inflame.
Once a charismatic yet divisive star who stood out on China’s stolid political stage, Bo is almost sure to face trial and jail after the party announced his expulsion on Friday and issued a list of allegations: bending the law to hush up a murder, taking huge bribes and engaging in “improper sexual relations with multiple women.”
The party buried Bo under the accusations at the same time that it announced a Nov. 8 date for a congress that is to anoint a new generation of top leaders — a lineup that Bo held barely disguised ambitions to join.
Yesterday evening, top leaders gathered in the cavernous national parliament building for a National Day reception, their first public appearance since the revelation of the accusations against Bo.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) did not mention Bo or any other controversies in his remarks to hundreds of diplomats, officials and other guests.
“Looking ahead, we are full of confidence,” Wen told them, adding that “no hardship will prevent us from forging ahead.”
Wen also called for the people to unite in support of the CCP and its outgoing leader, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).
“Let us rally more closely around the CPC Central Committee with comrade Hu Jintao as the general secretary,” he said.
The eight other members of the Politburo Standing Committee — the party’s innermost core of power — also attended the reception.
Bo’s downfall has unsettled their preparations for the leadership succession and exposed high-level abuse of power after his former police chief briefly took refuge in a US consulate and revealed that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai (谷開來), had murdered a British businessman.
State media tried to draw a clear line between Bo and the party elite he once belonged to, casting his fall as a victory for the party’s determination to fight corruption.
“No matter how high a position, no matter how influential, anyone who violates party discipline and state law will be sternly pursued and punished,” Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on the case.
“As a senior party official, Bo Xilai should have been a model of obedience to party discipline,” the news agency said in the commentary, widely distributed by state media Web sites. “But instead he monopolised power and behaved recklessly, doing as he pleased and gravely violating discipline.”
“His misdeeds deserve their punishment,” it said.
Earlier yesterday, the party-run parliament confirmed that Bo had been removed as a delegate, following his expulsion from the party and its governing councils, Xinhua reported.
Additional reporting by AFP