The latest indication came on Thursday, when 90 Chinese ministers and vice ministers gathered in Beijing to sing the revolutionary classic “Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China” which was featured in a musical film during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, according to state media reports.

Since becoming party chief of the southwestern city of Chongqing in 2007, Mr. Bo has overseen a heavy-handed crackdown on organized crime, which some lawyers say has shown scant regard for judicial procedure; and a government spending splurge on social projects in the metropolis of 32 million. He has pledged to build cheap rental accommodation for 2.4 million people and actively relocate 3 million to urban from rural areas by 2012—far outstripping national targets.

Over the past year, he has intensified the red campaign, ordering local students and officials to work compulsory stints in the countryside, and forcing the main local satellite-TV station, which is government-owned, to drop all advertising and screen only revolutionary programs.

For many Chinese, such policies conjure painful memories of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, when millions of students were forced to work in the countryside and Red Guards attacked teachers, intellectuals and other “bourgeois” elements in a bid to suppress Mao’s critics.

Many local governments are now studying or mimicking Mr. Bo’s plans to build massive quantities of social housing and actively relocate rural residents to the city as a way to address one of the party’s biggest headaches—how to encourage urbanization while maintaining social stability.

But many Chinese lawyers and rights activists see echoes of his attitude to the rule of law in the extrajudicial detention of dozens of dissidents, including the artist Ai Weiwei, since online appeals for a “Jasmine revolution” began circulating in mid-February.

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