Mayor tries to reassure investors
Chongqing's government has outlined its economic objectives for the rest of the year, in an apparent effort to reassure jittery investors that the ongoing investigation into former party boss Bo Xilai would have little effect on its business-friendly climate.
The southwestern municipality is aiming for 'steady growth', the official Chongqing Daily reported yesterday, citing mayor Huang Qifan at a conference on Saturday on the city's first-quarter economic performance and this year's growth prospects.
Huang, formerly a staunch supporter and ally of the disgraced Bo, stressed that 'pro-growth' was the fundamental economic ethos for the municipality, vowing to make every effort to maintain the growth rate for the rest of the year.
Chongqing's gross domestic product in the first three months 'showed a positive growth trend', the paper quoted Huang as saying at the meeting, but the report did not mention the growth rate.
The municipality's economic output grew 16.3 per cent in the first quarter last year, ranking it No 3 in the country.
Huang listed a string of difficulties facing Chongqing - ranging from rising labour costs to energy shortages.
Seven economic areas were mapped out at the meeting for the municipality to focus on for the rest of the year.
An increased emphasis on luring both domestic and foreign investment was high on the agenda, along with more promotion of small business and building facilities for industrial parks.
Analysts say Huang was trying to ease anxiety among investors in Chongqing who might fear for their business prospects given the political uncertainty that has been hanging over the municipality since early February, when its former police chief, Wang Lijun , sought asylum at a US consulate.
Meanwhile, Chongqing's official media continued their public denunciation of Bo, who previously enjoyed their full backing.
In the Chongqing Daily yesterday, Bo was cited as an example of a bad influence on the city. A commentary piece asked senior officials in the municipality 'not to lose your sense of direction over the major political matters' and 'to deepen political awareness' after the central government made the decision to remove Bo from the Politburo and the Central Committee for 'serious violation of party discipline'.
For the past few days, the municipality's propaganda machine has been running at full throttle attacking Bo, the former high-flying princeling-politician whose campaign to win a seat on the ultra-powerful Politburo Standing Committee they used to champion.
The municipality's GDP was about one trillion yuan (HK$1.23 trillion) last year - an increase of 16.4 per cent from 2010, according to official data.
Chongqing has maintained double-digit growth throughout Bo's tenure, which began in 2007 and ended in March, when he was dismissed as party chief.
But state-run media in the municipality have been trying to discredit Bo's contribution to its economic growth, stressing that his behaviour has instead tarnished the reputation of Chongqing and hindered its development.
Chongqing's GDP was about this much, in yuan, last year - up 16.4 per cent from 2010