Chinese Prez leaves for foreign tour amid rift speculation

Chinese Prez left for a ten-day foreign visit, including to India, signaling that the leadership was firmly in control after the sacking of Bo Xilai.

Updated: Mar 25, 2012, 18:42 PM IST

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