Bo Xilai

Rivals celebrate in competing styles

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am

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Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai led a mass revolutionary song sing-along ahead of the Communist Party's 90th anniversary today. Political rival and predecessor Wang Yang told cadres not to be overwhelmed by flowers and applause and not to overlook public opinion.

At a provincial conference to celebrate the founding of the party, the Guangdong party boss urged officials 'not to be overwhelmed by success and numbers but overlook existing problems, not to be overwhelmed by development and achievements but neglect potential risks', according to yesterday's edition of Nanfang Daily.

Wang called for 'free thinking and mind liberation' to remove red tape and obstacles to economic development, for Guangdong to 'be a vanguard of scientific development' and focus on 'real happiness' for its people, themes he has reiterated in several high-profile campaigns since taking over as Guangdong party chief in 2007.

In Chongqing, Bo has been busy churning out new campaigns and slogans to praise the ruling Communist Party.

On Wednesday, he presided over a 100,000-strong rally of revolutionary songs, to which even former US state secretary Henry Kissinger was invited.

Ong Yew-kim, an expert on mainland politics, said Wang's sophisticated speech was an oblique criticism of Bo's 'red campaign' and suggested that two very different political views were competing within the party. 'Personally, I believe Wang's speech also tried to reassure Hong Kong ... that Guangdong won't follow Chongqing's leftism,' he said.

In Guangdong's best-selling Southern Metropolis News, Wang's speech took out the front page, with the headline in huge red characters, while Bo's red song campaign merited only a four-paragraph report on an inside page.

The Nanfang Daily omitted any mention of Bo's red song campaign.

It is the second time in a week that Wang has urged the province's cadres not to be overwhelmed by applause and achievement. On Sunday, he told a group of cadres that in 'a new historical circumstance, as a mature ruling party', they should 'increase the awareness of potential risks rather than just sing the praises of its achievements' because that was more advantageous to the party's long-term rule, the Nanfang Daily reported.

Wang's criticism of singing praise was widely interpreted as a reference to Chongqing's red song campaign.

Beijing-based independent commentator Yao Bo said he believed the Guangdong and Chongqing models were in competition, with Guangdong representing reform and opening-up but facing the task of upgrading itself, and Chongqing reverting to leftist stereotypes.

Some scholars have criticised Chongqing for wasting billions of yuan of public money organising mass revolutionary singing events over the past two years.