China removes top leadership contender Bo from post

BEIJING, (Reuters) – Ambitious Chinese Communist Party leadership contender Bo Xilai has been sacked from his post as head of the city of Chongqing in a dramatic move that exposes growing ideological divisions just as a new generation readies to take power.
His abrupt downfall, announced today by the official Xinhua news agency, threatens to kindle tension between his supporters, who favour a more traditional, state-dominated version of socialism, and liberal critics, who saw him as a dangerous opportunist.
Bo was removed as party boss of Chongqing, a sprawling urban region in the southwest that he turned into a bastion of Communist revolutionary-inspired “red” culture and egalitarian growth, a day after being rebuked by Premier Wen Jiabao in a news conference broadcast across the country.
The telegenic Bo had been a strong contender for top leadership, but his career prospects came under intense speculation after Vice Mayor Wang Lijun, his longtime police chief, went to ground in February in the U.S. consulate in nearby Chengdu until he was coaxed out and placed under investigation.
In a separate statement, Xinhua said Wang had also been removed from his post. It gave no other details.
Xinhua said Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang will replace Bo.

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