Skip to comments.China: Bo Xilai is down, but not out yet
Posted on 05/31/2012 7:12:51 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Bo Xilai is down, but not out yet
Thursday, May 31, 2012
By David Kan Ting, Special to The China Post
The oft-quoted Chinese saying, people's eyes are snow-brilliant, (人民的眼睛是雪亮的) has a ring of truth, after all. The adage, attributable to Chairman Mao Zedong, asserts that the eyes of people are piercing and sharp, able to see the difference between right and wrong, and to penetrate the smoke and mirrors of the reactionaries and counterrevolutionaries. The chairman seems to have got it right again this time as mainland China is rocked by scandal after scandal. Time magazine called the country The Republic of Scandal in a recent cover story. The Washington Post printed an interesting story last week that turned many a head: Bo --ilai, the purged party chief of Chongqing, was sorely missed by many of his followers in the megacity of 30 million. They spoke glowingly of his policies designed to help the region's disenfranchised and marginalized.
Before Bo came, Chongqing was like a little girl. After Bo, we grew into a young beauty, the paper quoted a 43-year-old tourist van driver as saying. He made a lot of dramatic changes that ordinary people can feel, the driver and Chongqing native added. (President Ma Ying-jeou please take note: make Taiwan's ordinary people feel what you have done for them).
The report, filed from Chongqing by Keith Richburg, was unusual in that it revealed the grass-roots reaction to the sudden fall of a rising political star who until March 15 was deemed a credible candidate for the party's innermost sanctum of power the nine-member Standing Committee of the Politburo. Bo's sin has been unclear except for a brief official announcement that Bo is under investigation for serious breach of (party) rules.
It is unusual, too, in the way the Party Central is handling the case. When former Shanghai party Secretary Chen Liangyu was ousted in 2006 for alleged corruption, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for bribery and abuse of power without arousing much international attention. So was Beijing party chief Chen --itong two decades ago. Bo's case appears much more complex and thorny, not the least of which was his enduring legacy and popularity as the Washington Post pointed out.
And that legacy and popularity is not easy to be discredited and airbrushed, because people's eyes are snow-brilliant. There are still people, mostly retired, who gathered in the city's downtown Three Gorges Square to sing golden oldies and red songs as they did before Bo was gone, according to the report. He did a lot of good things here, one retired dock worker was quoted as saying.
Bo was missed by a lot of disadvantaged and under-privileged whom the charismatic, populist politician had helped with massive social welfare projects like low-cost housing for migrant workers and rural poor. I think Bo set an example in caring about people's lives, a laborer told the Post. I feel sorry for him.
That shows there are still people who like Bo's controversial Chongqing Model of reviving Mao's egalitarianism with revolutionary radicalism. But his agenda is out of step with the Party Central, which feels threatened by a possible return to the dreaded era of Mao's destructive Cultural Revolution. It seems clear that the leadership in Beijing will not tolerate one country, two systems at home, however successful Bo's experiments in Chongqing might seem.
Seen in this light, Bo appears doomed to be a tragic hero. The tail should not be allowed to wag the dog. He is a strong-willed maverick who has more foes than allies. Unless he gives up his leftist line which is unpopular in today's capitalistic China, he is unlikely to get the prize he has been seeking, even without the horrible rumors and scandals of corruption and murder swirling around him and his wife Gu Kailai.
Besides, Bo belongs to the so-called princelings offspring of Long March revolutionary leaders. The princelings are notorious for amassing huge wealth by using privileges and political connections. How can Bo, who earns about US$1,600 a month in salary, afford for his son to study at Oxford and Harvard with a luxurious lifestyle? But Bo is by no means alone. Of the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, six have children who have profited handsomely from their family status, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
So, to accuse Bo for corruption sounds unfair when corruption has become so commonplace in a country where the whole point of political office is to steal as much money as possible and as fast as possible, another Washington Post report said, quoting a longtime China investor.
That's why it's a bit too early to write the political obituary for Bo who seems giving the Party Central a headache when so many snow-brilliant eyes are closely watching his fate. If Bo is found guilty of corruption, those eagle-eyed citizens plus 500 million netizens will see the glaring hypocrisy of the pot calling the kettle black.
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