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Bo Xilai

Party chief steps up publicity drive

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 May, 2011, 12:00am

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Guangdong party chief Wang Yang, a key contender among those vying for a top party position next year, showed off his populist touch by mingling with children just ahead of tomorrow's International Children's Day.

Wang and one of his perceived political rivals - Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai - represent two competing camps of the party's next generation leaders; both are running very public campaigns to fashion media-savvy personas ahead of a key party congress which may be held in autumn of next year.

The provincial secretary of the Communist Party answered more than 10 questions raised on Sunday morning by primary schoolchildren from Guangdong. According to mainland media reports yesterday, Wang commented on a wide range of topics, from parenting skills to his aspirations of making life better for everyday citizens.

While some Asian parents favour a tough approach in pushing their children to achieve excellence, Wang said he wanted to see more children benefit from a combination of discipline and liberal-minded parenting.

'Tiger Mums and Sheep Mums both have their advantages,' Wang said. 'We should formalise an education approach by combining the essence of Chinese and Western parenting styles ... I hope your mother will be a combination of a tiger mum and a sheep mum.'

He was also asked how his definition of happiness had changed over time. 'When I was little, happiness was about getting good grades and seeing a whole dining table served with meat,' he said. 'Happiness came from the love of mum and dad when I was little.

'Happiness to me now is to provide for more people the means to live a joyful and prosperous life.'

Those comments came after an earlier campaign in which Wang promised people a 'Happy Guangdong' by 'safeguarding and improving their livelihoods' through social reform.

One Guangzhou-based political analyst said Wang and Bo were engaging in ambitious media campaigns to cultivate their public images in a bid to garner support.

Although Wang and Bo are seen as strong contenders for seats on the Politburo Standing Committee, Wang has maintained a lower profile while Bo has made little attempt to conceal his ambitions for higher office, with his crusade against crime bosses and his controversial campaign over the past few years to resurrect Maoist revolutionary culture.