Star Politburo member buoyed by people's wave

09:19, March 08, 2010      

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Bo Xilai

The charismatic leader of China's most populous city, Chongqing in Southwest China, found himself at center stage on Saturday, surrounded by close to 200 cheering reporters at the Great Hall of the People, where he vowed to continue his high-profile crackdown on all kinds of crime in the city.

Bo Xilai, the media-savvy Party chief of Chongqing who is also a member of the CPC Central Committee's Politburo, received a rowdy welcome typically reserved for celebrities upon walking into the Chinese parliament, nodding and smiling along his way.

The 60-year-old's 40-minute late appearance at the NPC panel discussion for Chongqing delegation Saturday, which was open to the press, ignited the crowd of reporters and a female NPC deputy trying to make a speech had to raise her voice upon his arrival.

The heated atmosphere at the 90-minute press questioning and answering session on Chongqing City -- most of the questions were prepared for Bo -- dwarfed a similar briefing two floors down with the Beijing delegation at the Great Hall of the People.

Bo, the former minister of commerce who is also a journalism major, has almost single-handedly changed the image of Chongqing, a populous southwestern hub, within a matter of years.

What began as a televised, police-chase style crackdown on prevalent underground weapons arsenals in early 2009 quickly evolved into the most eye-goggling campaign against gangs China has seen in decades, the China Daily reported in an article Monday.

Bo Xilai

So far, the clampdown has already brought down the city's former deputy police chief, Wen Qiang, put dozens of influential local gang leaders behind bars and seen the swearing-in of a new mayor, Huang Qifan, who earlier said working with Bo was "like a duck taking to water".

More than 3,300 people have been arrested in the municipality of 30 million people during the crackdown, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

While stating that “only the public was qualified to evaluate” the results of his crackdown, Bo said: "We're not there yet, as there remain 500 or 600 cases that still haven't been done."

Bo's determination to clamp down on gang crime and corruption in Chongqing has won him huge support among the Chinese public, to the point that during the Spring Festival holidays last month, an online song lauding his achievements -- aptly named "Song of Bo Xilai" -- gained instant popularity, and has been widely recited.

Bo, for his part, smiled and said the song "ought to be deleted" when a reporter asked him Saturday if he had ever heard it. Perhaps, the star politician does not want too much publicity, and he just wants to have his job done for the people.

People's Daily Online

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