NPC chairman full of praise on Chongqing visit
National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo, the second-ranked member of the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, has become its fifth committee member to endorse Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai's anti-triad campaign and red culture drive.
During a three-day visit to the southwestern municipality that started on Friday, Wu said he was stunned by the details of the crackdown on the city's criminal syndicates, the Chongqing Daily reported.
'In regard to the whole country, the triad activities in Chongqing may not necessarily be the most rampant,' Wu said. 'Some regions may have to wage similar campaigns - they can't afford not to.'
Wu was the fifth member of the Politburo Standing Committee - the country's top decision-making body - to visit the municipality since August in what increasingly appears to be a show of political support for Bo. He was preceded by Li Changchun, the top propaganda official, Zhou Yongkang, the law enforcement official, Vice-President Xi Jinping and He Guoqiang, the man in charge of the party's disciplinary watchdog.
Bo, who is believed to be jockeying for a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee at the 18th Party Congress in autumn next year, has spared no efforts to burnish his political credentials since arriving in Chongqing in late 2007 - promoting the singing of revolutionary songs, building low-cost public housing and making millions of rural residents move into urban areas.
Wu's high-profile visit will further boost Bo's political prospects.
'Along with the implementation of the anti-triad campaign, Chongqing has slashed its crime incident rate by 40 per cent while significantly raising its detection rate,' Wu said. 'It is really great work for the city to clear up over 700 homicide cases which were supervised and handled by the Public Security Ministry and win the hearts of 95.8 per cent of the general public in this regard.'
However, the clampdown on dozens of triad bosses and their friends in the government or the party has been criticised for sacrificing the rule of law in its eagerness to cut the crime rate.
Professor He Weifang, from Peking University's law school, posted a letter online yesterday expressing his deep concern over the Chongqing campaign. 'What happened in the city has posed a threat to the basic criteria of a society under the rule of law,' Professor He wrote.
Citing lawyer Li Zhuang's case as an example, He questioned whether Li's sentence had compromised judicial independence and procedural justice. Li, representing alleged gang boss Gong Gangmo, was accused by Gong of helping him fabricate evidence and given an 18-month jail term by a court in Chongqing even though not one witness testified. The judgment sparked uproar. The authorities said Li would face additional charges.
Professor He also criticised some legal scholars in Chongqing who expressed support for the local authorities' actions, saying it represented interference in legal independence and infringed legal procedures