Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
Chongqing party boss set to hand out big lai see
Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai will hand out 600 million yuan (HK$687 million) to the municipality's poorest people before the Lunar New Year.
A political analyst said the move was aimed at enhancing his case for a top position in the next government reshuffle.
More than five million people will receive red envelopes this year, after Bo said Chongqing's cadres needed to improve their relationship with the public.
The Year of the Ox has proved a turbulent one for Chongqing, due to the continuing crackdown on organised crime. This has seen the arrests of scores of police and officials and exposed the true grip that triads have on the city.
A report in the Chongqing Daily, the mouthpiece of the party committee, stated that authorities would contribute 420 million yuan, while the remainder of the money would come from donations. The amount is double last year's 300 million yuan handout.
During a visit to poor rural areas on Friday and Saturday, Bo said officials should not always 'hang around' with the wealthy, and 'must make a marriage with the poor' through frequent visits to poor families.
'We should attract investment, but we definitely should not despise the poor and curry favour with the rich,' Bo was quoted as saying, adding that connecting closely with the people was a principle aim of the Communist Party.
The plan to distribute the red envelopes and aid was announced in the local press yesterday. More than 5 million people, including disabled soldiers and retired cadres in difficulty, will receive 300 yuan per person or per household.
More than 1.9 million people will receive 30 yuan, while another 170,000 struggling households and 70,000 unemployed people will receive 50 to 70 yuan. A further 2 million people who have suffered from natural disasters such as flooding will receive food, clothing, bedding or free heating.
A 24-hour hotline will be set up by the Civil Affairs Bureau for local people to report any wrongdoings by officials.
Bo Xilai is the son of the late Bo Yibo, one of eight powerful party elders known as the 'Eight Immortals'. Bo Xilai has launched a series of campaigns since taking over as party chief in December 2007, ranging from the singing of revolutionary songs to text messages praising the work of the party and the government, aimed at emphasising the leading role played by the Communist Party and trying to win the support of local people.
Political analysts said these campaigns and the latest display of largesse was an attempt by Bo, the former commerce minister and member of the Politburo, to win promotion at the 17th party congress, which takes place in 2012.
Mo Zhixu, a Beijing-based political columnist, said the campaign was aimed more at cadres than low-income people. 'He is trying to tell the powerful old cadres in the party that he knows the principles of the party despite his [privileged] family background,' Mo said.
Mo doubted that the mass campaigns would make much difference as public support was not an important factor in selection of senior cadres.
600 million yuan will go to the poorest people in Chongqing
This compares with last year's total, in millions of yuan, of: 300