Posted by Michael Kennedy on April 12th, 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
There is a huge story going on in China right now. A very high official in the Politburo, named Bo Xilai has been purged, and his wife has been arrested. The story as reported is not the real one.
Here is John Burns’ opinions of What is going on.
First the official version.
CBS News) BEIJING – We are getting a rare look at the inner workings of China’s Communist power structure thanks to a scandal that erupted there this spring. CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen tells us about the man at the center of it.
The Chinese nicknamed Bo Xilai a “princeling,” which means one of the most powerful men in China.
Now he’s called criminal in a case that is part soap opera, part murder mystery.
In a stunning announcement this week, Bo was dumped from China’s Politburo, the powerful committee that runs the country.
His glamorous wife Gu Kailai has been arrested for the murder of Nick Heywood, a British man found dead in a hotel room last November. At the time, Chinese police said he died of alcohol poisoning — although his family said he didn’t drink.
The background story is:
Well, of course what we see here is something that none of us really wanted to see at all, and I’m not talking about the murder. That, of course, we would all regret. What we’re seeing is a new upheaval in the Chinese political leadership, the most important political purge in Bo Xilai, the former Chongquing party chief, candidate for the inner sanctum of power in the politburo. And this is very disturbing to those who had hoped, believed, perhaps, that China, this is a new China, the post-Mao China, which was heading toward a period of political stability, the rule of law, in other words, had really put the Mao era, the Cultural Revolution, the chaos, the great leap forward, and all the rest of it, behind it. What we’re seeing now in this very sordid tale is something much more like what we saw of Chinese leadership in what we, and indeed, I think most Chinese would describe as the bad old days of Mao Tse Tung, a politics that is much more personal, that is much more brutal. Let’s not forget that in the Cultural Revolution in China under Mao, millions, I think the Chinese officially concluded ten million people, died. Now it’s not to suggest that China’s heading for that. The present Chinese leadership who purged Bo are saying, in fact, that it’s to prevent that kind of…return to that kind of politics, that they’ve purged him. But then you have the question of the alleged murder. the story begins in mid to late November when, and at that time, the world knew nothing about it. Neil Heywood, a 41 year old private school educated Englishman of some personal charm, went to Chongqing, the capitol city of Sichuan Province in Southwest China, source of the wonderful hot food that we all like in Chinese restaurants, and on some sort of a business trip. He had for some years, we now know, had a very unusual personal relationship with the family of Bo Xilai, the Communist Party chief in Chongqing, and that relationship seemed to be centered very much on Bo Xilai’s wife, Gu Kailai, a 53 year old rather handsome woman from her photographs, daughter of a retired, probably now dead, revolutionary general under Mao Tse Tung. This was Communist royalty. Long story short, Neil Heywood ends up dead in his hotel room in Chongqing. The Chinese report to his family that he died of over consumption of alcohol. They report that they’ve cremated him without autopsy. The family, the Heywood family, appears to have accepted this, and that includes Mr. Neil Heywood’s Chinese wife and two children living in Beijing. The next stage was that the police chief of Sichuan Province, the closest personal aide, if you will, to Mr. Bo, the party chief, having reported so it is now said, to Bo Xilai, that Heywood didn’t die of over consumption of alcohol. He died of poisoning, and that the poisoner, or at least the one who organized the poisoning, was none other than Bo’s own wife, Gu Kailai.
So what we have is a tremendous turn in the politics of China, and it seems to center, this scandal’s center on the death of this Englishman. And it’s left to people like myself to now go in pursuit of what the real story behind all of this was.
it’s very disturbing in terms of what it tells us about stability in China. Let’s remember, this is a country which is widely judged to be on its way to being the economic superpower of the 21st Century. It engaged in rapid expansion of its military to the extent that the Obama Administration felt obliged to station 2,500 Marines in Australia to, in effect, to stiffen the American presence in Asia against the rising power of China. So that’s the one thing, is how much can we trust this new China? The second thing is in terms of Chinese domestic politics. Bo Xilai, a very complicated story, and to all accounts, a very corrupt man, a man who has pocketed millions, sends his son off to a very expensive private education abroad, rumored, this boy, to at one point have been driving around Chongqing in a red Ferrari, presently enrolled at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. So Bo is a very complex character, because he’s also the tribune of those in China who say much of what has happened in the last 30 years has been a mistake, this get rich quick stuff, we’ve got to turn back the clock to the Cultural Revolution, we’ve got to get the state capitalism, get control of that. This free enterprise is out of hand. This is a determined, ambitious appeal to a larger constituency in China who have not benefited very much from all of the free marketeering of recent years. So almost any way you approach this, this is an event of momentous proportions.
What now ? I have called my daughter, who has friends in Beijing, and they may know more about what is going on. It may be time to get out of China for a while until the dust settles. Her friends are an American who went there ten years ago to teach English, and his Chinese wife who attended my daughter’s wedding on their way to his graduate MBA program. I don’t know if they are here, or there.