Mayor quashes rumours on health of senior statesman

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 March, 1993, 12:00am

INFLUENTIAL elder Mr Bo Yibo has voluntarily stepped aside and refrained from taking an active part in politics, his eldest son said in Hongkong yesterday.

Mr Bo Xilai, who is mayor of the northeastern city of Dalian, also cleared rumours that his father was ill, saying the senior statesman still enjoyed robust health.

His statement coincided with a signed commentary in the Chinese Communist Party's newspaper People's Daily yesterday, which urged elderly officials to make way for the younger generation.

''Maybe you have noticed from television that his eyebrows are very long . . . these are typical of what we call 'longevity eyebrows','' Mr Bo said at a trade promotion for Dalian City yesterday.

''His health is still very ood. Our only regret is that his back is slightly hunched. He is getting shorter every day, but his spirit is excellent.'' He said the 85-year-old party veteran had long quit politics, even before the dissolution of the Communist Party's Central Advisory Commission last year, of which he was a vice-chairman.

''Long before the dissolution of the committee, he began to concentrate on writing,'' Mr Bo said.

''His memory is very good and he has written many, many books already.

''And I understand that their [party elders] principle was not to take part [in national affairs] as much as possible. These gentlemen always stand aloof and mostly spend their time on writing their memoirs and other literature.'' But Mr Bo claimed that since his father had long experience in running the country, his present ''past-time'' was mainly related to the national economy.

A similar message was reflected in the commentary, which urged the older generation to support the younger leaders, offer them suggestions and ''teach their experience and lessons to the successors''.

''As reform deepens and the country is more open to the outside world, a great deal of young men will step up to leading posts, take the important leading responsibility,'' the People's Daily said.

''Some old comrades are old and need to retreat to the back stage.'' When speaking to Hongkong reporters, Mr Bo, 45, also commented on the decision by his younger brother, Mr Bo Xicheng, to quit his job as director of the Beijing Tourism Bureau last year and set up his own tourism business.

''Now the whole country practises market economy, it is only normal [for him] to choose business [over politics] if he has that interest,'' he said.