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.
No green light for 'red culture' park
The Chongqing authorities have scrapped a plan to build a 2.5 billion yuan (HK$3 billion) 'red culture' theme park after widespread public criticism, Xinhua reported yesterday.
The municipal publicity department said on Thursday night that it was not appropriate to launch the 'China Red Classic Theme Park' - originally planned for Chongqing's southern Nanchuan district - and the contract for the project, signed on Monday, had been terminated.
Xinhua quoted Li Jing, deputy director of the Nanchuan district government's publicity department, as saying that the decision had been passed down from the municipal publicity department. He had no idea what had caused the change of heart or what would happen next.
Chen Bo, chief of the district's merchants bureau, said the project had been cancelled. The investor, Chongqing Red Classics Investment, a private company, told Xinhua that it might invest in other projects.
The 128 hectare park, bigger than Hong Kong Disneyland, was to have featured the world's largest flags when completed in 2015, the Chongqing Evening News said on Tuesday.
That announcement generated thousands of comments on mainland internet forums. Most commenters believed it was risky and a waste of money. The controversy did not calm down after the authorities clarified that the investment would come from private companies, not the government.
Some internet users yesterday hailed the decision to scrap the project. A commentary on gmw.cn, a website under the Guangming Daily, said the U-turn indicated a childish approach to decision-making.
Professor Zhu Dake , a culture critic at Shanghai's Tongji University, said public opinion had played a role, but 'the higher authorities might have intervened'.
'It reflected the lack of an independent think tank able to warn against blind and reckless investments in city development,' Zhu said. 'Public hearings are also necessary before such decisions are made.'
Chongqing, in the southwest, was the temporary capital of the Kuomintang - the Communist Party's rival - during the war against Japan in the 1940s. It has become the centre of a red culture wave spreading across the mainland since Bo Xilai became its party chief in late 2007.