The Downfall of Bo Xilai
While the world is busy in finding a peaceful solution for Syrian crisis, and saving the Euro Zone, the world’s largest Communist Party of China (CPC) is currently undergoing a power struggle where one of the most ambitious party leaders of Chongqing, Mr. Bo Xilai was removed last week. The outgoing Hu-Wen administration seems determined to clean the house before handing over the power to new generation of Chinese leaders in the late autumn this year.
This incident has generated a huge debate behind the fire walls on the Chinese internet. The demise of Bo Xilai has been termed as one of the most significant event after the downfall of reform minded Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang in 1989. After all, Bo Xilai was seen as the rising star of the princeling group in China. He was the son of Bo Yibo, another reformist leader during the time of Deng Xiaoping. Before shifting to Chongqing, Bo Xilai was the commerce minister of China (2002-2007). Earlier he has been at the helm of affairs in the province of Liaoning. Mr. Wang Dejinag, currently a vice premier has been assigned to look after the Chongqing Municipality.
The story unfolded when one of the Vice Mayor of the Chongqing city, Mr. Wang Lijun was denied asylum when he entered the American consulate in Chengdu. 1 Wang was the head of Chongqing public security bureau and instrumental in cleaning the city from 3000 brothels and 100 of city gangs. He was especially shifted from Liaoning province (the den of all the major gangs in northern China) to the Chongqing municipality by the leader Bo Xilai, when the latter joined as the party secretary in 2007. Currently Mr. Wang is under surveillance and was not allowed to take part in the recently concluded NPC and CPPCC sessions. He had applied for asylum fearing threat to his life by making him political scapegoat by certain leaders in the party. But why the United States, the only champion of human rights in the world, has denied him asylum is yet not clear. Perhaps Vice President Xi Jinping was expected to travel to the United States on the invitation of Joe Biden. Giving asylum to Wang would have given a quite wrong signal to the China’s president in-waiting.
What will be the fate of Wang Lijun is very obvious to any observer of Chinese Communist party Politics. If not executed, he will be charged with serious crime of sedition and conspiracy and may spend rest of his life behind bars. But during his trial what all the revelations he will make will certainly decide the fate of many small or big party leaders. Mr. Bo Xilai always liked the media lime light and since he shifted to Chongqing, he has been credited with major economic and social reform. He attempted to bridge the rural urban poverty gap by including the rural dwellers into the city benefit facilities. He organized Red-Singing campaigns which had been popular during the cultural revolution of Mao’s time. What has evolved as Chongqing model in the recent media reports was bitten to dust in a fort night. The indication was very clear in the Premier Wen’s press conference on 15th March after the end of NPC session. In response to a question from AFP journalist, Wen indicated very clearly that a proper investigation will take place and law will take its own course.
Political Reform not on the Cards
On the issue of democracy and popular elections in China, Mr. Li Zhao Xing, the spokesperson for the 12th NPC & CPPCC, made it very clear that it is too early for China to go for direct election of its leaders, with universal suffrage. China is the largest nation in the world and geographically it is very diverse. There are hundreds of villages still not connected by any transport communication. Currently the Chinese society is also very imbalanced economically; hence it is early for China to go for popular voting.
Now, what would the next course of political reforms in the country is not yet clear. But one thing is very clear that the Chinese Communist Party is intolerant of any disciplinary misbehavior by whosoever it may be. It is premature to conclude that the downfall of Bo Xilai has already exposed the factional struggle inside the party. Earlier the false news of Jiang Zemin (ex Chinese President) had created similar controversies but the party managed to get hold of the editor of Hong Kong Based magazine, who is currently facing trial. Bo many not find any sympathizer in the top leadership who can openly come in his support, but his demise will make sure that the party is united and still far from disintegrating as some observers have predicted. Factionalism inside the party is prevalent from the very beginning, as it is the nature of any political party in the world. Some time it is less visible, but some time it is more when heads roll.
The Rise of Fifth Generation Leaders
In the fall of 2012, China will undergo a major transition in leadership. Xi Jinping, China’s current vice president, is expected to replace Hu Jintao as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and as president of Chi¬na. With this change comes a new generation of Chinese leaders, the rise of “fifth generation”. Seven out of nine members of the Standing Committee—China’s most pow¬erful decision-making body—will also be replaced. It is yet too early to write an obituary for the demise of Mr. Bo Xilai as he still continues to be a member of the politbureau. But it is clear that he is out of the race for the nine-member standing committee members of the politbureau. Only two members, Mr. Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are confirmed, as they are all set to take over as president and prime minister of the country later next year. For the rest seven members of the standing committee, the competition is still open. It is believed that the downfall of Mr. Bo Xilai will only make the case of Wang Yang, party secretary of Guangdong province stronger.
As of now it seems that the leadership transition in China will be peaceful and will take place later this year. But what kind of governance this fifth generation of leadership will undertake and how they will keep the party intact is yet unclear.
- American influence in China is on unprecedented rise especially with the designation of Garry Lock as the latest Ambassador in 2011. Mr. Lock has been rated one of the most travelled ambassador in China and has been able to maintained direct contact with individuals in the country. His forefathers were migrated from China 100 years ago and now he is trying to connect his family friends and relatives in order to leverage his influence in the domestic society. But the disappointment came to his fans when Mr. Wang Lijun, the deputy mayor of Chongqing city was denied political asylum when he spend the whole day in the American consulate located in the city of Chengdu.