During a trip to China in March, I was stunned when picked up by a friend in Suzhou who asked if I knew of the “coup” in Beijing and whether I knew anything about Bo Xilai because I just left Beijing a few days ago. My friend told me that it was reported over the internet that an army tank entered the city and that the Changan Road was shut down. “It is impossible,” I replied, having stayed in Beijing only a few days earlier.
By April 1st, the Chinese government arrested 6 people who spread the rumor about a coup in Beijing (Sankei Shimbun 1 April 2012). Some western media and scholars have begun to comment; however, only a handful people are providing an accurate analysis of the situation. To understand Bo Xilai’s situation it is necessary to understand Chinese politics (what we know the facts):
1. In order to get into the Standing Committee of the CCP (or core leaders in the CCP), the person must serve at the top of the CCP in one of the provinces or large cities. Bo Xilai was the Secretary of the CCP in Chongqing Municipality in 2007 (Basic knowledge of the Chinese politics).
2. Wang Lijun, the former police Chief, has recorded many conversations of top leaders visiting Chongqi(Mainichi Shimbun 22 March 2012).
3. Bo Xilai dispatched his police force to Chengdu, Sichuan Province, to try to arrest Wang Lijun who sought “political” asylum in the American consulate. In the end, the central government police force took Wang to Beijing. Over 100 elite Chinese police have gathered in Chengdu (Wall Street Journal 13 March 2012, and the previous blog of Power Struggle in Beijing-I).
4. Bo Xilai inspected his father’s founding army as Hu Jintao was the trip in overseas (personal interview 23 March 2012).
5. As the top of the CCP in Chongqing, Bo publicly launched the “anti-mafia” movement, which many people flashed back the ten-years Cultural Revolution which violated basic human rights without any evidence. Some so-called “mafia” are merely targeted rich and powerful people in the city (Financial Times 17-18 March 2012).
6. Some of Bo’s friends in Dalian city, such as Xu Ming, and Wu Wenkan in Chongqing have been investigated by the central government. His wife attorney Gu Kailai, has been arrested because she involved the death of the British citizen Neil Heywood case (CCTV News 11April 2012; Japan Times 7 April 2012).
7. Bo launched the campaign “Red Song” movement in Chongqing in order to go back the old “Left” road (i.e., Cultural Revolution era) (Wall Street Journal 19 March 2012).
8. The “princelings” group is not necessary friendly to each other. For instance, kids of Hu Yaobang have not associated with any kids of “princelings.” Bo might not be “real” friend with Xi Jinping, who is also the kid of “princelings.”
9. Wen Jiabao has asked the CCP Politburo – 25 leaders to reexamine “June Fourth” movement in 1989. Each time, Bo was the person who strongly opposed reevaluation of the movement (Sankei Shimbun 23 March 2012).
Based on the above facts, the following conclusions can be drawn,
First, Bo Xilai clearly is a strong candidate to be a member of the Standing Committee in the 18th CCP Party Congress this fall. If he does not do anything (not launching “red song” and “anti-mafia” movements in Chongqing, he will probably get into the Standing Committee. However, Bo launched many unnecessary movements in Chongqing. Many people suspect that he has been looking for taking over Xi’s position to become the number one position in Zhongnanhai, the place the Chinese core leader live in. If this is true, Bo, just like Li Biao, committed extremely serious mistake in Chinese politics.
Secondly, Bo abused his power by sending police forces to Chengdu in order to arrest Wang Lijun. Bo does not have any jurisdiction in Sichuan Province. This mistake will kill his chance to get into the Standing Committee.
Third, one of major reasons that Wang Lijun tried to escape to the American consulate in Chengdu was that Wang worried for his life because he knew very well about his boss Bo Xiliai and his ruthless way of dealing with human beings. Only when Wang got into the American consulate, could the central government will be able to save his life because it is dealing with “International Relations.” Probably, all information, such as corruption etc., brought by Wang into the US consulate is not important for the American government. However, it is very serious problem for member of the CCP because it is considered a “betrayal” of the party.
Fourth, Bo inspected military forces and ordered army forces to exercise, violating another serious power jurisdiction in Chinese politics. Bo is not a member of the military commission, nor a member of military elite. His father, Bo Yibo, certainly founded a group of Chinese army forces. However, Bo Xilai cannot inherit his father’s military force at all regardless his “princelings” position. This is an extremely serious issue which may result in him going to jail if the government found him guilty.
Lastly, Bo Xilai, unlike Xi Jinping, has not made a lot of friends among the top elites in Chinese political circle. Even among the “princelings” group, only few people, such as Zhu Chenghu, came to support him. Once he got into trouble, no one is willing to scarify their lives to help Bo Xilai.
Source: Reuters News (access date: 13 April 2012).