Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Public Stunned, yet Pleased by the Removal of Shanghai Top Official

City view of Shanghai

Millions of people commented on the Internet in the last couple of days, hailing the sacking of Chen Liangyu, former party chief of Shanghai, who allegedly involved in the city’s recent social security fund embezzlement scandal.

The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party made the decision on Sunday to remove Chen Liangyu from office, including his post in the Politburo, and start an investigation on his role in the pension fund scandal. Preliminary investigation showed that Mr. Chen was involved in the embezzlement. He was also found seeking interests for illegal entrepreneurs, providing illegitimate benefits for his relatives, and shielding his staff’s misconducts, Xinhua reported.

The move was to the surprise of the majority of the public. “It’s sudden, but reasonable,” one wrote on the Internet. Most people did not expect such severe punishments for Mr. Chen, who not only had a position in the politburo, but also headed the largest and most prosperous city in China. He was also seen as a member of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin’s clique.

Many observers said Mr. Chen’s fall indicated President Hu Jintao’s final take-over of the full power, and the ending of Mr. Jiang's influence on national politics. Others said the move was more than power struggle, but was part of Mr.Hu’s plan to crack down on party and government officials’ corruption, which has been prevalent in almost every government and party branch across China, and deeply rooted in the political system. They saw this move as a hope for restoring a clean, integral political arena.

One observer wrote that Chen Liangyu provided a good opportunity for President Hu to demonstrate that he was willing to remove anyone who committed corruption, so as to admonish other officials. And the timing was good, too. The communist party is expected to go through major personnel changes when the party’s 17th national assembly opens next year. There are speculations that half of the members of the politburo standing committee will retire after the assembly. With a largely new politburo standing committee, which sits at the top of CCP hierocracy, it is easier for Mr. Hu to implement new policies, including a tougher surveillance system to tackle corruptions.

On Tuesday, an official from CCP’s central disciplinary committee said that last year, more than 11,000 party members were dispelled from the party due to corruptions, Xinhua reported.

----by Josie Liu

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