TV report casts doubt on Bo offer to resign

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am

Embattled Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai made an appearance on state television yesterday amid rampant speculation that he has tendered his resignation to the Politburo.

China Central Television's 7pm news bulletin showed Bo attending a Politburo meeting, chaired by party general secretary Hu Jintao, on Monday.

His presence cast doubt on a widely circulated report by the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, which quoted anonymous sources as saying that Bo had offered to resign from his Chongqing post at the meeting. It also said Hunan party chief Zhou Qiang, a close ally of Hu, would replace Bo as Chongqing's leader in May.

The report did not say if the meeting had deliberated on Bo's offer. TV footage showed Bo at the meeting and taking notes, suggesting that he is still a Politburo member.

Chongqing's municipal government press office and the municipality's party propaganda department denied the Hong Kong group's report, saying Bo had returned from Beijing and was back at work as usual yesterday.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said he was not aware of Bo's rumoured resignation.

The centre's report sent the rumour mills into overdrive again, building on the political storm in Bo's backyard that brought down his top protege, former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun.

A well-connected Chongqing government source told the South China Morning Post that rumours about Bo's resignation were rife. 'We've heard of it, but no official confirmation yet,' he said. 'Even if he really offered to resign, it's most probably just a political ploy.'

Chen Ziming, a political analyst, said Bo's offer to resign appeared to be a well-calculated move. 'The Wang Lijun saga has evolved into one of the biggest political scandals over the past 60 years and Bo simply has no other option but to take blame because Wang was his right-hand man,' he said.

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