Discipline chief He Guoqiang plants a tree in Beijing on Tuesday. (Photo/Xinhua)
China's nine senior leaders including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao attended a tree-planting ceremony in Beijing on Tuesday, the first public appearance for all nine members of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee after the dismissal of Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai. The move is seen as a show of unity to quell rumors over a struggle in the top circle of power following Bo's removal, reports our sister newspaper China Times.
A number of official media outlets including the Communist Party's People's Daily and military mouthpiece PLA Daily, as well as Chongqing Daily and the Guangzhou-based Southern Daily reported the event on their front pages, with copy and pictures from the state news agency Xinhua.
The entire Politburo Standing Committee including Hu, Wen, Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang all took part in the event.
"We should further mobilize the public and take full advantage of science and technologies in promoting the campaign," the president said in the annual event, which was founded in 1981, according to Xinhua.
The event was the first time the nine have appeared in public together since the two national conferences in Beijing in early March. Bo was sacked the day after the conferences ended.
To eliminate rumors spreading both at home and overseas that Bo's ouster had caused a furious argument between different party factions, even leading to claims of an attempted coup aimed at preventing Vice President Xi Jinping taking over the top spot later this year, People's Daily posted an article reminding the country to focus on cooperation and look for stable progress in an editorial which mentioned the word "stability" some 20 times. Meanwhile the comment function on popular social networking sites was disabled for several days as the censors deleted references to the recent rumors.
Xinhua also listed ten other Politburo members who attended the event. Though Bo retained his Politburo position despite losing his party offices in Chongqing, he was not among them. His absence gives credibility to reports that he has been confined to his home since his dismissal.
Zhou Yongkang, the ninth-ranked member of the standing committee and a Bo ally who has been at the center of the rumors of a coup attempt, was present. Zhou, who was reportedly furious with Wen Jiabao about the removal of Bo, is thus in the clear while Bo is still in the dark, the China Times analysis said.
American broadcaster CNN and BBC's Chinese news service cited China observer Jeffrey Wasserstromas saying that whether Bo has any kind of political future is still uncertain, since Beijing has neither announced his arrest nor stripped him of his position on the Politburo.
Hu Jintao 胡錦濤
Wen Jiabao 溫家寶
Wu Bangguo 吳邦國
Jia Qinglin 賈慶林
Li Changchun 李長春
Xi Jinping 習近平
Li Keqiang 李克強
He Guoqiang 賀國強
Zhou Yongkang 周永康
Bo Xilai 博熙來
Wang Lijun 王立軍