China detains 2 over T-shirts backing Bo

2012-05-18 17:43

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Beijing - Police in central China detained two women for 10 days after they printed T-shirts supporting deposed regional leader Bo Xilai and opposing Premier Wen Jiabao, one of the women said on Friday.

Song Qing and Ge Liying, both 61, were arrested on May 5 after they made the T-shirts in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, Song said.

"We want to speak out," Song said, adding that she and Ge were Maoists who "believe that only Maoism can help China."

Campaign reflects debate

The retired worker said Bo's campaign to drive out organised crime, encourage mass singing of socialist-inspired "red" songs and prioritise "common prosperity" in the city-state of Chongqing was "a reflection of ordinary people's interests, and it carried hope for us."

The women's campaign reflects a growing debate over the sacking of Bo and the future course of China's economic and political reforms.

The T-shirts had two pairs of characters on the front and back reading "ting bo" (quite thin) and "jiang wen" (lower temperature).

The Chinese characters for "thin" and "temperature" are also the surnames of Bo and Wen, respectively, giving the messages a second meaning of "stand up for Bo" and "down with Wen."

Song said she and Ge were among 32 "party members and masses" from Henan who signed a petition criticising Wen to China's nominal parliament on March 1.

The petition advocated a halt to privatisation of state firms and accused Wen - who has overseen China's economic reforms for the past decade - of failing to "respect the constitution."

Understand people’s interests

"I come from the bottom of society," Song said. "I know ordinary people's interests and what they are supporting."

"We experienced the Mao era, we know what 'serve the people' means," she said, adding that she was a "folk Maoist" but not a Communist Party member.

"I support the party that was founded by Chairman Mao," Song said. "I support the socialist system."
Bo became a beacon for "leftists" such as Song who advocate curbs on reform or even a return to Maoist-style egalitarianism.

Division

In March, he was engulfed by a political scandal that now includes a murder charge against his wife.
But some of the party's 80 million members and other ordinary Chinese people have opposed Bo's ouster, creating a division ahead of a key congress later this year that will approve the party's first leadership change for a decade.

Sixteen retired party members in the south-western province of Yunnan circulated an open letter last week urging party leader and state president Hu Jintao to sack powerful security chief Zhou Yongkang because of his reported support for Bo.

Wen and Hu, who will both retire after the congress, lead the drive by mainstream party leaders to expand political and economic reforms and develop "socialist democracy" in China.

- SAPA
Read more on:    hu jintao  |  china
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