China's heir apparent calls for Communist Party unity

China's likely next leader has called for greater unity in the ruling Communist Party in a speech published on Friday -- a day after the biggest political drama to hit the country in years.

The speech, in which Vice-President Xi Jinping also said the party's authority had been weakened by a "lack of principles" among some members, was made before senior leader Bo Xilai was sacked as Chongqing party secretary.

But analysts said the decision to publish it on Friday in the party magazine Qiushi, or Seeking Truth, was a sign that China's leaders were keen to prevent potentially damaging infighting in the party.

Xi is expected to take over from Hu Jintao at the helm of the Communist Party later this year before becoming China's president in 2013 in a generational handover of power.

"To maintain the party's ideological purity is to guarantee the unity of the party," said Xi, accusing some members of "a lack or principles and corrupt behaviour which is not conducive to the purity of the party".

"Today some people join the party not because they believe in Marxism and want to devote themselves to Socialism with Chinese characteristics... but because becoming a member brings them personal benefits," he added.

"If the thoughts of members and cadres of the party are not pure, their ideas cannot be firm, and their political positions can easily change."

Xi did not mention Bo by name in his speech, delivered to cadets at the Central Party School -- a training ground for future leaders -- on March 1.

But David Goodman, an expert on Chinese politics, said it sent a message that party leaders did not want the kind of open politics that the charismatic and populist Bo was seen as practising.

"What happened under Mao (Zedong) was that individual whim rather party organisation came to rule," said Goodman, professor of Chinese politics at the University of Sydney.

"The Cultural Revolution smacks to many people of a lawlessness and the whims of a single ruler. How does that relate to Bo? He laid himself open to the criticism by going for an open, charismatic (style of) politics."

China announced on Thursday that Bo, a rising star once tipped to reach the very top in the ruling party, had been removed from his post in the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing.

He remains a member of the party's powerful Politburo, but analysts say his political hopes are finished after a scandal involving a key aide who was said to have tried to defect to the United States.

  • How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds 6 hours ago
    How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds

    “I didn't steal your car but I think my mom may have. It's a long story. I'll explain, but your car is safe and sound," read the flier posted in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a strange tale that began when Cheyrl Thorpe was asked by her daughter Nekisia Davis to dog sit her Pomeranian at her apartment, according to New York Magazine.

  • All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground 8 hours ago
    All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground

    Much of Subaru’s modern day success in America can be attributed to one car: the Outback. Born in 1994 as a response to the growing popularity of SUVs, the Outback established a winning formula of combining a high-riding suspension, butch body cladding and big round fog lights to its comfortable, no-nonsense Legacy wagon. It is the kind of unique product that only a quirky company like Subaru could build, and was one that kept Subaru from slipping into ubiquity even as traditional SUVs and crossovers have taken over the world.

  • Custom faux-tique electric tram aims to replace New York's horses over the neigh-sayers 9 hours ago
    Custom faux-tique electric tram aims to replace New York's horses over the neigh-sayers

    For the record, it's the year 2014. I mention that in case someone reading this story about a push to replace horses with motorized carriages thinks they've stumbled onto some archival piece by accident. It's been more than 100 years since the first vehicles began to trundle around Manhattan, but the last remaining vestiges of horse-powered transport in the city could be nigh — if the backers of a massive electric wagon get their way.

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media.