The parade Li Xingmin organised to celebrate his promotion to Communist Party secretary in Bozhou seven years ago is the stuff of local legend. Residents say they could never forget it. Li probably wishes they would. It was by far the biggest extravaganza the city of 1.3 million in Anhui had seen, say witnesses and official media. Flowers, balloons and flags decked the streets. Floats were built and marching bands marshalled. Thousands of armed police, justice officials, tax collectors and students marched. Li stayed in the presidential suite of the city's best hotel. Just before he was to join the ceremony, Li panicked, fearing he might be assassinated. He declared martial law and, with the army blocking every street, the city ground to a halt. When he joined the parade in an open-top car, Li waved and shouted to the masses in a manner reminiscent of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. 'Supreme leader, thank you for all your efforts,' the crowd chanted. The parade lasted for more than three hours, and when it was finished, the local television channel broadcast it in full. The affair reportedly cost the city more than two million yuan (HK$1.88 million) - a handsome sum for somewhere as poor as Bozhou. In 1999, Li left to become vice-mayor of Suzhou, also in Anhui. But the party has a long memory. Yesterday, Xinhua reported that Li, 53, and his wife had been detained by the party's disciplinary inspection commission and were being probed for 'economic crimes' over the parade. Xia Xueluan, a sociologist at Peking University, said supervision of top-level cadres was inadequate, and sometimes personnel changes exposed them to action from which they had previously been shielded.