Chongqing's municipal government vowed Saturday it would shake off the impacts of the Bo Xilai scandal and make law-abiding governance the priority alongside further reform.
Huang Qifan, mayor of the metropolis in southwest China, described 2012 as an "extremely extraordinary year" for Chongqing's development in his report on the work of the municipal government, which was delivered to the 4th Chongqing Municipal People's Congress.
The local legislature convened its annual session on Saturday with aims to outline the city's future blueprint for the next five years.
The mayor said the government has endeavored to maintain steady economical and social development despite the severe toll of the incidents involving Bo Xilai, with the city recording an annual economic growth of 13.6 percent.
"It turned out that Chongqing citizens have weathered storms and withstood ordeals," he said.
The government published the full text of its work report, in which it placed governing in accordance with the Constitution and the law as a main focus for this year, while references to Chongqing's previous high-profile crackdowns on organized crimes are notably absent.
In 2009, when Bo Xilai was the CPC (Communist Party of China) chief of Chongqing, the city launched a massive anti-crime campaign, prioritizing fighting local mafia-style gangs. Though Bo and Chongqing's police were credited with reducing crime, concerns were raised about abuses of power and the neglect of due legal process.
The government should rule in accordance with the law, and "no organization or individual has the privilege to overstep the Constitution and the law," the work report said.h As power reshuffle in this session is set to usher in new local leaders, higher requirements are posed for the municipal government to further intensify reform, Huang told the lawmakers, adding that improvement to work style should be made following the central leadership's call for eradicating bureaucracy and formalism in December.
Officials in Chongqing are urged to remain low-key and down to earth, talk less and work more to better serve the people.
The strict observance of morality and discipline is required while officials, especially those with high ranks, should better educate and restrain their relatives and staff members working closely with them, allowing no privilege, according to Huang.
Bo's wife, Bo-Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, were convicted over the scandal that stemmed from the murder of a British businessman in November 2011 while Bo was secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the CPC.
Bo was later deprived of CPC membership and expelled from public service for severe disciplinary violations.
Zhang Dejiang, who replaced Bo in March, noted at a Party congress meeting that the cases have greatly tarnished the image of the party and have had a grave impact on Chongqing's reform and development.
BALANCED GROWTH A TOUGH CHALLENGE
The report indicates that Chongqing municipal government now has its feet on the ground, said Zhou Qingxing, professor with the Trade and Administration department of Chongqing University.
"The report refutes what has been propagated as skyrocketing in Bo's term of office since 2007," Zhou said.
In outlining the city's targeted development in the next five years, the report envisions the city reaching the national average level in 2017.
Admitting to the reality that Chongqing still lags behind much of the rest of the country will provide impetus for officials and people to work realistically, according to Zhou.
Chongqing, a city with most of its 8.4 million square meters spanning across mountainous areas, has been burdened with undeveloped rural areas for decades.
The situation reflected the nation's reality that urban and rural imbalance has greatly hindered economy and social development.
Authorities began to address the city's chronic urban-rural imbalance in 2007, with implementation of a pilot reform program to bridge the urban-rural gap.
The reform has proven to be smooth. The report suggests that the urbanization ratio has risen to 57 percent in 2012, and rural residents' annual income grew at 16 percent in the past five years.
Over three million farmers have already gained urban resident status, with authorities permitting them to retain their rural land and gain equal access to education, health care and other services in the city.
However, Prof. Zheng Fengtian said Chongqing still faces tough challenges in achieving an overall development, mainly due to its huge rural-urban imbalance.
"Chongqing is a sprawling metropolis with 20 million rural people in its 33 million-strong population, which means higher costs for rural infrastructure investment," said the professor with the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development in Renmin University. Endi