Bo Xilai

Wen's anti-graft article could point to Bo's fate

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2012, 12:00am

Premier Wen Jiabao is vowing more resolute anti-graft measures during his last year in office, according to an article to appear today in the party's mouthpiece magazine, Seeking Truth.

The timing of the article has prompted speculation that corruption charges may be brought against the disgraced former party chief of Chongqing, Bo Xilai.

Official agency Xinhua ran a preview summary of the report yesterday. In the piece, titled 'Let the power be exercised under the sunshine', Wen stresses that anti-graft measures must be given a 'more prominent position' in the government's work this year, and he urges the government to be more open to the public's monitoring.

Wen said 2012 'is the last year of this government, and we must not be slack in our work. [We must] deepen reform and strengthen the construction of our system'.

Concrete measures that Wen mentions include deepening reforms in relation to the administrative approval system, marketisation of public resources, the fiscal management system, administrative expenditure and the general financial management of administrative bodies and state-owned enterprises.

While fighting corruption has long been a mainstay of Wen's policy, mainland analysts said the appearance of the article at this time could also have something to do with the Bo saga, as it is rare for mainland leaders to write directly under their own names, even in state media.

'This, on one hand, shows that if Bo is indeed found to be corrupt, he will be seriously dealt with,' said Hu Xingdou, an economist with the Beijing University of Technology.

'But also, with high-level officials such as Bo falling from grace, people are increasingly finding officials untrustworthy.'

Hong Kong-based analyst Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, a professor of political science at City University, said corruption was probably the easiest charge to make against an official, but in Bo's case it would also be a good way to hit back at the new leftists by saying their idol is corrupt.

'The biggest criticisms by many old and new Maoists are the wealth gap and rampant corruption, since they believe that there was less corruption before the reform,' Cheng said. 'But if Bo is also found corrupt, this will be a blow to the leftists.'

Zhang Lifan, a China watcher formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the earlier official announcement about Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, having economic disputes with British businessman Neil Heywood - the murder of whom Gu is allegedly involved in - was a sign that Bo could face corruption charges.

'However, I think it's too soon to say whether the whole saga will end with Bo being charged [only] with corruption, which would reduce the seriousness of Bo's case to the same level as Cheng Chen Liangyu and Chen Xitong,' Zhang said, referring to two former Politburo members who were charged with corruption.