Bo Xilai may have weathered the storm
Chongqing Communist Party head Bo Xilai - mired in controversy following the detention of his former right-hand man - made a high-profile public appearance on Thursday, meeting a business delegation led by former Macau chief executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah.
Political analysts said it was an indication that Bo was unlikely to be removed before the 18th party congress this autumn.
The meeting with Ho, a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and the Macau tycoons accompanying him, was the first time that Bo had received guests in public since rumours earlier this week that he had submitted his resignation to the Politburo.
Bo reiterated his achievements in improving the southwestern municipality's security, economy and social welfare, the Chongqing Daily reported yesterday.
After the meeting, Bo treated Ho and his other Macau guests to a 'red song' concert on Thursday night featuring performances by Chongqing's 13 red choirs, the newspaper said.
'Our people love our country and treasure our excellent history and culture. It's the perennial passion to keep our country strong,' Bo told Ho. 'We Chinese should have vehement patriotism and let it root deeply in the rich soil of our national culture. It's the function of our 'red song' campaign.'
The newspaper ran photographs of Bo's meeting with Ho's delegation and a separate meeting with Hong Kong celebrities who helped organise the red song concert in Hong Kong this month on its front page.
Bo launched the 'red song' campaign, leading his city in the singing of rousing Cultural Revolution-era songs, in 2008 to promote communist ideology. His anti-triad crackdown and the red songs campaign had helped make him a strong contender for promotion to the supreme Politburo Standing Committee at this year's party congress.
But the detention of Chongqing vice-mayor Wang Lijun , the municipality's former police chief and a key Bo ally, early this month has been seen as a setback to his promotion prospects.
Wang, 52, is believed to have been placed under investigation by the party's discipline watchdog following a mysterious visit to the United States consulate in Chengdu , Sichuan , on February 6, during which he was rumoured to have sought political asylum.
Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a political scientist at City University, said Bo's latest appearances, in China Central Television's coverage of a Politburo meeting earlier in the week and in the meeting with Ho, were aimed at easing suspicions surrounding him.
'I believe Bo intends to stage a gradual retreat, which is less sensational and would help him to avoid too much speculation [on his political future],' he said.
CPPCC spokesman Zhao Qizheng said yesterday he expected that Bo would attend next month's annual session of the National People's Congress. 'Why shouldn't he?' Zhao asked, according to Associated Press.