When Bo left as deputy secretary of the Jin county Communist Party committee to become Dalian mayor in 1993, the city was a mess.
Liaoning province, of which Dalian was a part, had many state-owned companies left behind in the wave of economic reform and open-door policy that swept other parts of the country.
The unemployment rate in the province was higher than the national average. Environmental pollution was a serious problem due to the prominence of companies in the heavy industry sector.
Bo tried to erase the image of Dalian as a dirty municipality and strove to live up to his slogan of a "beautiful Dalian."
He tore down old factories and barracks and planted trees along the streets. During the eight years Bo served as mayor and secretary of the municipal Communist Party committee, more than 80 public squares were constructed in the city.
"The ratio of greenery reached 40 percent," a municipal government document proudly stated.
The mayor increased the number of sewage treatment facilities as part of a campaign to purify the city’s 40 foul rivers. He also pushed ahead with construction of rental housing for those in lower income brackets. In total, housing for 450,000 people was constructed.
That was the practical side of Bo Xilai. Here is an example of his less practical but more poetic (or Borgesian) side...
He continued to come up with offbeat ideas as Dalian mayor. For example, the squad of female police officers on horseback was the first of its kind in China.
Bo instructed the first recruits to "become the beautiful calling cards for Dalian." The average age of the first 50 female officers chosen was 23.
From the veranda of the mayor’s office that overlooked the People’s Square, Bo often watched with satisfaction as the female officers circled the lawn...
Any great mayor or leader must have his/her Borgesianism.