Mon, Jul 02, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Preparations for Chinese transition ‘smooth:’ paper

AFP, BEIJING

China’s top official newspaper said yesterday that preparations for a key meeting to set the country’s next leadership were smooth, despite a festering political scandal.

The People’s Daily said work to hold a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) congress for a once-in-a-decade leadership change later this year was proceeding, as the country marked the 91st anniversary of the party’s founding yesterday.

However, the mouthpiece made no mention of the recent ouster of top leader Bo Xilai (薄熙來), which analysts say exposed deep rifts within the ruling party.

“Preparation work for the 18th party congress is being carried out smoothly,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

“The party and the people welcome the 18th party congress with full confidence ... This is a key moment,” it said.

The editorial called for increasing the fight against corruption, saying it was one of the biggest risks to the party, but made no mention of specific cases.

Bo, the charismatic former party secretary of Chongqing once tipped for the very highest echelons of power in China, was formally suspended from the powerful 25-member politburo in April.

His wife, Gu Kailai (谷開來), was also detained for suspected involvement in the murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood. The party has yet to make an announcement on their fates.

Bo had been widely expected to be named to the party’s nine-member politburo standing committee — the nation’s highest ruling body — in the transition.

The newspaper hailed China’s recent achievements, including a space mission and the 15th anniversary yesterday of the return of Hong Kong from British colonization back to Chinese rule.

In the past decade, China’s economy has become the world’s second-largest, improving Chinese people’s livelihoods, it said.

The CCP had more than 82.6 million members last year, state media said, representing a total population of more than 1.3 billion.

The party traces its founding to a meeting held in Shanghai in July, 1921, when delegates met in a school in the city’s then-French Concession.

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