“Bo Xilai, the final installment?” might have contained the seeds of a hypothesis if it had not been for the academic caution introduced by the question mark. Therefore, a similar question mark has accompany today’s title and it might even be that Bo is not going to go away as quickly as some in Beijing might like.
However, my first confrontation with Bo today might have suggested otherwise with a Christopher Giesen of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” naively concluding that Bo’s, removal has very little to do with power struggles within the party, that it is a victory for transparency, and that Chinese government can no longer ignore corruption. Of course, anyone who has any insight into China and the CCP is all too aware that not only is endemic in the political system, but also that any transparency would mean the end of that system. Indeed, one of the reasons for Bo’s removal is the fact that Wang Lijun’s flight to Chengdu made all of this public in the first place. Nevertheless, Mr Giesen should not be attacked too harshly, he is only guilty of that naive, uninformed journalism that is very often indicative of the western media. he appears at best to be operating in his own little cultural centric universe.
Nevertheless, even in the mainstream press, there are exceptions to this type of journalism and the article in today’s ‘Guardian’ might be seen as such. In that article Professor SteveTsang from Nottingham University argues that although Bo is down, he might not be out. He writes: “No one outside the inner core of the Chinese Communist party leadership knows for sure. Perhaps even those inside do not yet know. The future of Bo, until Thursday the powerful party secretary of Chongqing, is still being decided. He has not lost membership of the politburo and is not officially under arrest – at least not yet.” Moreover, while my posts at least suggested that Hu Jintao and Wen Jibao the major players in Bo’s downfall, Professor Tsang quite right points out that: “Factional divisions and interest groups within the party mean that delicate negotiation and balancing need to be undertaken before the fate of someone like Bo can be decided. It is not up to General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, while the general public can only be spectators.” So much for the delusional fantasies regarding transparency and even if, as the ‘Economist’ suggests, the affair does open a little window “into the corrupt, fratricidal ways of party politics”, this has everything to do with internal power struggles within the party.
Bo Xilai is one of China’s so-called princelings, who are the offspring of the communist party elite, and the choice of Zhang Dejiang, another princeling to replace Bo in Chongqing, indicates that a balancing act is already going on within the party. Moreover, and more importantly, while Bo’s standing committee dream might be over, his fate will have an impact not only on the balance within the party but also on the course the party will take in the years to come. Nevertheless, even when we look at how this affair might influence the party, there is evidence to suggest that there are outside forces and trends at play which will have a far greater impact on the party and on China. That, however, is another story and when that story can no longer be hidden, the implications for the CCP and for China will be much greater than the present “crisis”.