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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bo Xilai's Spectacular Fall

The Economist has a brief article on Bo Xilai's stunning fall from the stratosphere of power in China:
IF HE ever fell, it was going to have to be a great spectacle. And so it has become. Bo Xilai, a former member of the Politburo who had aggressively sought promotion to the most elite circle of power, was expelled from the Communist Party of China in grand communist fashion, with a litany of lurid charges (including mistresses and bribe-taking) heaped high upon him in an account released on Friday, September 28th by Xinhua, an official news service.

The Politburo, which met earlier in the day, decreed that Mr Bo be handed over to judicial authorities. They are now expected to try him for corruption, for abuse of power, and for what amounts to some “major responsibility” in connection with his wife’s murder of Neil Heywood, a British businessman. Mr Bo, who had been the party secretary for the south-western region of Chongqing until he was sacked in March, now becomes the third great figure to face trial for a role in the affair of the Briton’s death in November 2011. Mr Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death penalty in August for poisoning Mr Heywood at a hotel in Chongqing. Wang Lijun, Mr Bo’s former police chief, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on September 24th for, among other crimes, his role in covering up the murder—also for his attempted defection to an American consulate in February, the event that triggered Mr Bo’s public downfall. Mr Bo’s trial (its date not yet known) will be China’s most high-profile political case since the Gang of Four were put in the dock 31 years ago for abuses they oversaw during the Cultural Revolution.
 The article goes on to discuss that after being made the party secretary of Chongqing province in 2007, considered to be a dead-end position for his career, Bo pursued a populist path to greater power, which included cracking down on corruption and resurrecting Mao-era "red songs." The author presumes that Bo's downfall was simply the result of accumulating more enemies than favors. Perhaps. Or perhaps Bo is a victim of a commitment to (or, at the least, a desire for) rule of law. As wealthy, powerful and popular as he was, it was not enough to save him from the consequences of conspiring to conceal his wife's involvement with a murder.

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