Olympics to 'make Beijing a better place'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2007, 12:00am

Official pledges Games benefits beyond 2008

Beijing's party boss vowed yesterday to make hosting a successful Olympics next year the top municipal priority, and to use the event as a catalyst to make the capital a better place.

'Hosting a successful 2008 Olympics will be the new municipal party committee's No1 mission,' Beijing Communist Party Secretary Liu Qi told more than 730 delegates at the opening of the city's 10th party congress, which is held over six days once every five years.

Mr Liu said the city's preparations for the Games were going smoothly and Beijing was committed to holding a 'characteristic and high-standard' Olympics.

But he admitted at the same time that the host city still lagged 'in the level of civilised behaviour among its people, and in its standard as a world-class city'.

In line with the nationwide anti-corruption campaign, Mr Liu said the Beijing government would take further action to weed out corruption within the party and in particular tighten auditing and supervision, to ensure a 'clean' and 'frugal' Olympics.

Beijing's former vice-mayor, Liu Zhihua , who looked after Olympics construction projects, was removed from office in June for 'living a corrupt life'.

The congress will usher in a changing of the guard in the upper echelons of the municipal party committee, including its top officials as part of a nationwide leadership reshuffle in the run-up to the 17th party congress in October.

There has been speculation that Beijing mayor Wang Qishan will be promoted to head the party in Guangdong, but other observers have raised doubts that either Mr Wang or Liu Qi will be replaced before the Olympics.

Safety and stability in the capital was highlighted by the party chief as another major task faced by municipal leaders - both in relation to the Olympics and for residents beyond the event.

'From beginning to end, we should set maintaining stability in the capital as our first political task, and perfect a leadership and work system to support that,' Liu Qi said. This would include strengthening law and order in the city, and improving the petition system.

The Olympics should be used as a new starting point for the capital to grow into a more 'prosperous, civilised, harmonious and livable' city, he said.

He pledged tougher measures to control pollution, smooth out public transport problems and preserve heritage.

He also said that Beijing should be able to achieve per capita gross domestic product of US$10,000 within the next five years, following average annual gross domestic product growth of 12.1 per cent for the past five years.

He stressed the importance of staying in line with central government instructions and upholding the central government's authority.

Conflicts between local and central governments have been partly responsible for the recent fall from grace of several high-standing officials, including former Shanghai party boss Chen Liangyu , who was purged last year for corruption and failing to follow central government policies.

Green cash

Beijing's vow to clean up the environment helped it win the Olympics

Amount spent in US dollars on curbing polluting industries and planting trees: 12b