China’s Chongqing renews attacks on former disgraced leaders

BEIJING (Reuters) – The government of the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing renewed its attacks on two of its disgraced former leaders on Monday, saying one had set up an “independent kingdom” while the other was a lazy deceiver.

Chongqing, one of China’s most important cities, is perhaps best known outside China for its association with its one-time party boss, Bo Xilai, once himself a contender for top leadership before being jailed for life in 2013 in a dramatic corruption scandal.

In July, another of its party chiefs, Sun Zhengcai, was sacked after he was accused of corruption. Sun, who has yet to face a court, had also been seen as a contender for promotion to the highest echelons of power in China.

Chongqing is now run by Chen Miner, a close ally of President Xi Jinping, who has made fighting deeply ingrained corruption a cornerstone of his administration. Chen has vowed to root out graft in the city.

In a front page commentary, the official Chongqing Daily said there could be no excuses for ignoring party instructions, especially on party discipline issues.

“Bo Xilai raised his own flag, started something new in order to be different, and set up an independent kingdom,” the paper wrote, in apparent reference to his “Chongqing model” policy of more equal growth and flashy infrastructure projects.

Bo, a former commerce minister, turned the sprawling, haze-covered municipality into a showcase for his mix of populist policies and bold spending plans that won support from leftists yearning for a charismatic leader.

His campaign against crime was also crucial in making him the country’s most prominent provincial-level leader, and a popular one at that.

But he was ousted after his wife murdered a British businessman and later jailed for a litany of crimes, including bribery, corruption and abuse of power.

Sun, though, has yet to be formally charged. The party has accused him of leaking secrets as well as bribery and abuse of power.

The Chongqing Daily did not reveal any other details of what Sun is suspected of, only leveling further broad accusations against him.

“Sun Zhengcai practiced lazy and indolent politics, bullied those below and hoodwinked those above, and was passively handled enforcement of decision from the party center,” it added.

The actions of Bo and Sun seriously harmed the party and had a malign influence on Chongqing, the paper said.

Efforts need to redoubled to root out their “residual poison”, it wrote.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)