Bo Xilai Takes Blame for “Negligent Supervision”

After sparking rumors when he failed to appear at yesterday’s NPC plenary session, beleaguered Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai held a press conference on Friday in Beijing. Hundreds of reporters were turned away from the meeting and had to rely on the tweets of their colleagues and a pool report from Bloomberg to get the scoop. This is the first time Bo has commented publicly about the case of his former police chief, Wang Lijun, who is under investigation after holding meetings at the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu:

AP reports from the conference:

Bo was the only one of the 25 members of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo not at Thursday’s meeting of the National People’s Congress, and no seat or place card for him was evident. The body is holding its annual 10-day session in Beijing this month.

Answering questions Friday morning at a meeting of the Chongqing delegation, the telegenic, somewhat flamboyant Bo said he missed Thursday’s session because he was ill. He said Wang was under investigation and conceded to failings in leadership.

“This was a case of negligent supervision on my part,” said Bo, who had been considered a leading candidate for appointment to the party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee at its national party congress this fall.

Bo declined to discuss his political future other than say he had not factored this year’s congress, the party’s 18th since its 1921 founding, into his future.

The current political intrigue in Chongqing was not the only topic broached by Bo. Bloomberg reports that he also let slip a tightly guarded number: China’s gini coefficient. While he didn’t give the exact number, he did indicate that the number has surpassed the level which usually indicates social unrest:

China’s Gini coefficient, an index of the income gap, has exceeded 0.46, Bo, the Communist Party Secretary for Chongqing Municipality, told reporters in Beijing today, without giving specifics. The index ranges from 0 to 1 and the 0.4 mark is used as a predictor by analysts for social disturbances.

The meeting where Bo spoke, held during the annual National People’s Congress in Beijing, highlighted Chongqing’s efforts to reduce the urban-rural income gap during the past five years, encompassing Bo’s tenure. Bo, 62, has reintroduced slogans and songs from the late Chairman Mao Zedong in a bid to re-instill a Communist spirit in a country that still officially adheres to the principles espoused by Karl Marx.

“If only a few people are rich, then we are capitalists” and “we’ve failed,” Bo said.

Bo reportedly ended his press conference with a comment on his son, Bo Guagua, who graduated from Oxford and has been seen driving around Beijing in a luxury car:

See also a Reuters report about the press conference. Read more about public speculation over Bo’s political future. See also previous coverage of Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun via CDT.


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