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China sacks key leadership contender

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China sacks key leadership contender

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One of China’s most charismatic “western-style” politicians has been sacked in a rare political scandal.

The removal of Bo Xilai, Communist party chief for the huge southwest metropolis of Chongqing, has exposed tensions in the preparations for a major transfer of power within China later this year.

Bo had been seen as a leading contender to join the Communist Party’s politburo central committee.

Speculation about his future began last month when police chief Wang Lijun reportedly tried to defect to the United States.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao spoke about the incident on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress in Beijing: “The present Chongqing municipal Party committee and municipal government must reflect seriously and learn from the Wang Lijun incident,” he said.

One political analyst suggested that Bo’s controversial crackdown on corruption in Chongqing, a city of 30 million people, had made him enemies in the party and led to his downfall.

Others said Bo had annoyed senior party members with his unusually open and ambitious campaigning.

China’s leadership renewal is expected to see General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jaibao step down in the Autumn handing over to a new generation of leaders.