At the end of September, a detailed dossier published by Xinhua, Chinese official press agency, reported worldwide the spectacular fall of mr. Bo Xilai, former member of the Politburo expelled from the Communist Party with several heavy legal charges.
The Economist published a very good article on this news, reporting the milestone of Bo’s lighting career that animated also the nternal debate between the supporters of Guangdong model (moderately liberal and democratic) and the supporters of Chongqing model (authoritarian, centralized and focused on social issues), that I mentioned in the previous post on Foxconn troubles.
The Bo Xilai marvelous fall is undoubtedly linked to his wife Gu Kailai, sentenced for the murder of the UK businessman N. Heywood in february, who was poisoned like in an old fashioned spy story. After the murder Bo Xilai attempted any desperate way to cover up everything, and finally asked also for political asylum to the USA Embassy. A quite good glance at the Chinese mainstream point of view is available on the Caixin online magazine website, prompting memories of the “Gang of Four” after the cultural revolution in recent history:
The facts of Bo’s wrongdoing made a joke of his public persona. He proved to be more deceitful than other corrupt officials, and more arrogant in his flagrant disregard for party discipline and the laws of the land. He should also be held responsible for stirring up political fanaticism and reviving ultra-left thought that worryingly recalled Cultural Revolution excesses.
The most interesting side of the whole Bo Xilai affair, is certainly connected with the original characteristics of his quick climb to the pyramid of political power: he had the great idea of boosting a popular campaign for his promotion through the levels of the Party’s bureaucracy. Among several subtle propaganda strategies, he focused on the struggle against organized crime, police bribery, and also on pretty political memories like the promotion of old fashioned revolutionary songs and slogans of Mao Tze Tung era.
He also focused on some important social issues deeply paradigmatic of the Chongqing model (he’s been the Chongqing governor since 2007), like the measures against the economic gap between poor and rich classes.
Some western columnists only commented his ambition and the lack of discretion while tuning his political strategy, that determined his successful achievements and also his ruinous fall. They therefore don’t consider the important consequences on the internal debate and the power balance only several weeks before the 18th National Congress of the Politburo, the most important political event in the Chinese Republic, scheduled in late October.
China is going to take crucial decisions now: and the long tail of the Bo Xilai affair is going to be decisive.