Thursday, 12 April 2012

Bo’s fall sparks shock, scepticism in China

Many express support for him; media rally people behind ouster

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Guanyu 道 said...

Bo’s fall sparks shock, scepticism in China

Many express support for him; media rally people behind ouster

By Ho Ai Li
12 April 2012

A day after the ouster of former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, the Chinese official media made a concerted attempt yesterday to get the country to support the decision, which received much play in microblogs, with quite a few expressing shock at the purge.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece People’s Daily declared that nobody was above the law.

‘Bo Xilai’s behaviour has seriously violated party discipline and greatly damaged the image of the party and the country,’ it wrote in an editorial.

It added that the decision to suspend Mr Bo ‘highlights the party and the government’s apparent attitude of firmly maintaining discipline and laws’ that will ‘certainly get the wholehearted support from the whole party and all of the nation’s people’.

This was read out yesterday on state broadcaster China Central TV’s 7pm news bulletin, which also featured about a dozen soundbites from party members endorsing the central authorities’ action against Mr Bo.

He was suspended from his membership in the party’s Central Committee, which effectively removed him from the Politburo, a top decision-making body.

He is now under investigation by the party’s anti-corruption body while his wife Gu Kailai is being probed for the suspected murder of Briton Neil Heywood, a Bo family associate.

The Global Times also gave the decision the thumbs up, saying that the probe shows ‘the resilience of the rule of law’. ‘This is no longer the era where China would rather cover issues up to avoid revealing problems,’ it said in an editorial.

In a report out of Chongqing, the state news agency Xinhua said residents of the municipality of 32 million supported the party’s decision to investigate their popular leader.

It quoted Chongqing Normal University teacher Liu Weidong as saying that publishing the news in a transparent way reflected the party’s highly responsible attitude towards the people.

The official media’s efforts to rally the the Chinese behind the decision came as reaction from the ground showed considerable support for the charismatic leader whose populist touch has made him popular with Chinese even outside Chongqing.

Many in China reacted with shock and scepticism to Mr Bo’s ouster and his alleged cover-up of a murder case involving his wife, with some calling him a victim of political struggle.

On the country’s microblogs, many noted it was not too long ago that Mr Bo was lauded for his work and seen as a good bet for higher office.

‘I finally understand: The winner takes all, the loser becomes an outlaw,’ wrote a netizen on Sina Weibo, quoting an old Chinese saying.

Some said that the allegations of murder and treason in Chongqing are reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution. Mao Zedong’s top lieutenant Lin Biao was killed when his jet crashed in Mongolia in 1971 after an alleged failed coup.

Netizens noted that the case now being made against Mr Bo’s wife is similar to the accusations made against Lin and his family.

In any case, supporters of Mr Bo are standing by their man.

‘No matter what happens, Mr Bo’s contribution to Chongqing can’t be erased. Ordinary folk’s gratitude to him will not change,’ said a 52-year-old engineer who wanted to be known only as Ms Shi.

A fellow Chongqing resident, Ms Wang, a 45-year-old businesswoman, said: ‘This outcome is what I had expected, he’s a sacrifice of political struggle. But I still feel very upset as I’m his fan.’

However, a 24-year-old postgraduate student who declined to be named was less enamoured of Mr Bo: ‘As a high- ranked official, it’s very unbecoming for him to make such a mistake... Very seldom do you hear of scandals involving such high-ranked officials.’

For economist and writer He Qinglian, the ‘complete obliteration’ of Mr Bo’s political image was the biggest story in this year’s infighting between factions in the CCP.

Guanyu 道 said...

For others like Beijing writer Dai Qing, the Bo Xilai saga was like an enfolding drama. ‘Act one is over, and we’re waiting to see what happens next,’ she told Reuters.

Stocks in Chongqing fell yesterday in what analysts said was a reflection of investors’ concerns about uncertainty in the city.