China’s top brass promise crackdown after Bo Xilai scandal

Vow comes on eve of crucial meeting to select country’s leaders for the next decade


China’s Communist Party has vowed to step up its efforts to tackle corruption and promote transparency in the wake of the scandal surrounding the fallen Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai.

The promise came as the country’s political elite gathered in Beijing for the once-in-a-decade leadership transition which begins tomorrow.

“Problems involving Bo Xilai and others are serious corruption cases among our senior cadres. The lessons learnt have been extremely profound,” Cai Mingzhao, spokesman for the 18th Communist Party Congress, said in the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square, on the eve of the crucial meeting.

Beijing is in security lockdown for the congress, with rights groups claiming that dissidents have been detained or told to keep a low profile ahead of the meeting. Access to the internet has slowed to a crawl as the system of online controls – the so-called “Great Firewall of China” – kicks in. It is also affecting virtual private networks that allow users to bypass internet filters.

Bo Xilai, formerly a strong prospect for inclusion on China’s all-powerful Politburo, has cast a shadow over events. Mr Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief and protégé, Wang Lijun, have both been convicted over the scandal that followed the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood – formerly a close associate of the Bo family – almost a year ago.

“No matter who they are and how high their position, they must be prosecuted without fail. We will further step up our efforts to ensure power be exercised in the sunshine, and to eliminate the soil where corruption grows,” said Mr Cai.

After its most serious political crisis for many years, the Communist elite officially expelled Mr Bo from the party in the run-up to the congress, and stripped him of his parliamentary privilege, paving the way for prosecution over a series of criminal charges of corruption.

Ho-fung Hung, associate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins University, believes the Bo scandal could yet have more ramifications for party chiefs.

“As there are still sympathisers of Bo Xilai at the top of the party who did not agree with the harsh handling of Bo. The Bo saga did leave a scar and a source of rivalry within the leadership that might bite again any time in the future,” said Professor Hung.

The national party congresses are held once every five years. This year’s meeting will herald a transition to a fifth generation of top party elite led by the vice-president, Xi Jinping. It must also deal with the slowing economy and calls for reform of China’s state-owned firms.

In addition to selecting members of leading party bodies, the 2,270 delegates will pore over the party’s achievements of the past five years. They will also debate revisions to the party constitution. Mr Cai also offered cautiously worded signals that some reform of China’s opaque political system may be on the agenda.

“Political and structural reform is an important part of our overall reform and opening up. We will expand the people’s orderly participation in government – we will expand socialist democracy,” he said, promising more “intra-party democracy” within the ranks of the 78-member organisation.

However, Kerry Brown, executive director of the China Studies Centre, expects little to change initially, because of the months of faction fighting and power-grabbing ahead, leaving little time for policy discussion.

“As they settle down, then we’ll get some idea. They might be able to offer surprises in terms of presentation and the way they talk to the world. But on solid policy, I can’t see anything major on the horizon,” he said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Regional ESF Contract Manager

£32500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Birmingham: European Social Fund...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home