Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Can the Chinese Communist Party Contain the Bo Xilai Scandal?

The smartphone/internet brought down Mubarak. Maybe it can bring down the powerful Communist Party in China. Not possible. No one thought the Soviet Union would collapse either:

The fall of Communist Party leader Bo Xilai began as an exercise in crisis management for the Chinese Communist Party and it continues as such.

Bo — who is descended from Chinese Maoist royalty — had been flamboyantly running Chongqing, a Southwestern city of 32 million people, brutally suppressing opponents whom he accused of corruption. For this and his success in stimulating the local economy Bo enjoyed strong popular support which he had been using to angle for a position in the ruling Standing Committee. During the night of February 6, posts on the internet told us that Wang Lijun, Bo’s recently removed Police Chief and hatchet man was inside the U.S. consulate in Chengdu; apparently he had driven there, about 180 miles, in fear of his life.

Bloggers and ultimately the international press were on it like white on rice. Since the get-go many of the rumors flying around the Chinese blogs about what’s going on have been extremely accurate. There are over one billion cell phones in China, mostly having texting capability. By comparison, when the Party last had to deal with factional disagreement within its ranks during the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989  there were only around 200,000 cell phones in use (without texting) , and blogging hadn’t yet become a national pastime,  so the leadership could handle its issues, under the then-strongly-consolidated power of Deng Xiaoping, behind closed doors.
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