It was interesting to read the ‘New York Times’ reporting Bo Xilai, the CCP Secretary in Chongqing. as a contender for the Standing Committee of the party’s Politburo and as “the closest China has to a Western-style politician.” Well, with lawsuits for serious human rights abuses being filed against him in more than ten countries and with him beig accused of embezzlement, it might just be that he is indeed quite close to a number of Western politicians. However, it is neither corruption, nor the torturing of prisoners of conscience that is at the root of the political drama that is underway in China at the moment.
Moreover, with it being suggested that Chongqing’s erstwhile police chief, and Bo Xilai’s right hand man Wang Lijun, knew that his plea for political asylum would be rejected when he went to the US consulate in Chengdu, and that he really went in order to land in the hands of he people who answer to Mr Bo’s political rivals, we can be sure that a political drama is, indeed, being played out.
Bo’s political adverseries might use the internationalisation of his human rights abuses, which have caused the party some embarrassment, and they might also gather evidence from those former associates in Chongqing who he might have alienated. However, as Cheng Yiaonong, the former Inegrated Research Office Directer at China’s Economy Reform Institute said in reviewing the incident;
“Corruption is only an on-the-table excuse for CCP’s handling of Bo and Wang. The real reason behind it is Bo’s challenging of CCP’s centralization. Bo broke the rules embodied by over-stepping the
power line and other improper acts to the CCP.”
Firstly, it is no secret that the party leadership in Beijing never supported Bo’s red culture and anti-vice campaign. However, Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao and Li Keqiang might even have ignored not only to the hypocrisy of a “neo maoist” who was in fact himself embezzling millions, but also his his attempts to revive a Mao mini-cult. It is not essentially Bo’s leftist tendencies that worries the political leadership in Beijing but rather the both the obvious inability of the flamboyant Chongqing party secretary to fit into a system that, since Deng Xiaoping’s death, puts the emphasis on collective leadership, and his contacts with the military.
That last factor might be perceived as a challenge to the CCP’s centralized military control and it is this that might just have put the final nail in Bo Xiai’s coffin. As recently as the 10th of February the Chongqing Party Secretary visited the 14th Army Group, an army group that has its origins in the New Shanxi Army, which was founded by Bo’s father Bo Yibo, in Yunnan. It is, of course, easy to imagine how this particular development might be perceived by the Beijing leadership, especially with Wang Lijun in their custody. Furthermore, with Bo apparently also planning a huge rally in Chongqing to display his support among the masses and with him seeking support from friends at the highest level, Beijing might feel that it is still being challenged. Of course, there can only be one winner and while the real China experts might see his not being electing to the Standing Committee as his best case scenario, there is reason to suggest that, unless he eats humble pie, his fate could be much worse.