Chinese Prez leaves for foreign tour amid rift speculation
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Last Updated: Sunday, March 25, 2012, 18:42
  
Beijing: Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday left for a ten-day foreign visit, including to India, signaling that the leadership was firmly in control after the sacking of Bo Xilai, a rising political star, had sparked speculation of a rift in the ruling Communist Party.

Hu, the General Secretary of the Communist Party and head of the 2.3 million People's Liberation Army (PLA), left for Seoul to attend the World Nuclear Summit after which he would visit New Delhi to attend the BRICS summit followed by a tour of Cambodia.

His departure ended speculation of a rift in the party following sacking of 61-year-old Bo, a powerful leader of hardline faction after an intense drama last month in which his close aid sought refuge in the US Consulate in Chengdu after falling out with him.

The sacking of Bo came weeks after his former close aide and police chief Wang Lijun reportedly tried to defect to the US in a dramatic event that remains shrouded in mystery.

Intense speculation had surfaced during the past few days in microblog reports in Weibo, the Chinese twitter with about 300 million bloggers, stating that battle tanks were seen in areas in Beijing where top leaders stayed.

A report in the BBC said the pictures were old snaps taken during rehearsals of military parades.

"On closer inspection though, some of the pictures seemed to be old ones from rehearsals for military parades, others did not even seem to be of Beijing, as they claimed, but different Chinese cities," a BBC report said.

Bo, who is widely regarded as a top contender for this year's leadership change in the ruling Communist Party, has been removed as the party chief of flourishing Chongqing city where he ruthlessly crushed local mafias along with police Chief Wang.

Situation turned worse for Bo after Wang dramatically gatecrashed into US Consulate fearing reprisals from his former boss and reportedly sought asylum.

Wang, however, came out of the US mission a day later after he reportedly struck a deal with the central government to save his life.

He is currently held at an undisclosed place. Meanwhile, Bo was allowed to attend the ten-day long Parliament session which concluded on March 14 and later sacked from most of the posts he held except for the member of the powerful politburo.

His sack orders followed a day after Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao warned of second Cultural Revolution if political reforms continued to be blocked.

Bo has not been seen since. Talk of the military getting involved followed speculation that Zhou Yongkong, member of the powerful Standing Committee of the politburo who heads the internal security forces was opposed to Bo's sacking, setting off a confrontation with Hu and the top leadership.

There was no official comment by the Communist Party. The speculation has subsided after Zhou, whose fate is unknown, appeared to meet the visiting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday.

Analysts said Bo's episode and speculation of infighting has dented the party's record of collective leadership and raised possibilities of dissent from influential section of cadre during the 18th Party Congress meeting scheduled to be held here in November to elected the new leadership.

Hu and the moderate wing had projected current Vice President Xi Jinping to succeed him as President and Party Secretary. Diplomatic sources say the events during the past few weeks show that the run up to the Congress may be eventful.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012, 18:42


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