Shanghai boss gives graft pledge
Shanghai's new leader, Xi Jinping , vowed yesterday to shake off the impact of the city's biggest corruption case but offered few clues about the fate of his predecessor, who was sacked for allegedly stealing from the city's pension fund.
Mr Xi took over as Shanghai's Communist Party secretary in March after Chen Liangyu was removed in September for his alleged role in misusing the city's 10-billion-yuan pension fund.
More than 20 government and state company officials have been implicated.
'The case has created tremendous harm and left us with profound lessons,' Mr Xi told a party meeting in his first public comments since taking office. 'It has harmed the cause of our party and state, hurt the reputation of the Shanghai Municipal Committee, damaged Shanghai's reform and development and severely impacted on the ideology of Shanghai's cadres.'
He referred to Mr Chen as 'comrade' in the two-hour speech, indicating the disgraced leader still holds party membership and showing a decision has yet to be made about his case.
The authorities have already stripped two groups of officials of their party memberships and handed them to the courts to face criminal punishment, including four just this week.
Mr Xi, an outsider who most recently served as party secretary of Zhejiang province , vowed to fight corruption. Mr Chen's sacking was widely viewed as a move by President Hu Jintao to bring Shanghai into line.
'No matter who the person, no matter what position the person holds, as long as party discipline and national law are violated, there will be severe penalties and harsh punishment,' Mr Xi said.
He also pledged to build Shanghai as a commercial centre and prepare for the 2010 World Expo.
Despite the corruption case, the city still recorded annual economic growth of 12 per cent last year, marking the 15th year of double-digit increases.
The party meeting, which is held once every five years, is expected to name new officials for some key posts at its conclusion on Monday. The Shanghai meeting comes ahead of a national gathering this autumn.
At least one new Shanghai deputy party secretary was expected to be appointed, possibly more, sources close to the government said. Observers are also watching for clues to the political future of Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng , amid rumours that he will be transferred out of the city at some point.
'Han Zheng may be transferred to another position and one or two outsiders may be appointed to top posts in Shanghai, but it is unlikely that the leadership of the city will go through a drastic reshuffle at the municipal party meeting this month,' Cheng Li, a professor of government at Hamilton College and fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote in a recent issue of China Leadership Monitor.