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Can L’Affaire Bo Xinlai turn into Le Cauchemar ( The Nightmare) Bo Xinlai?

2. That is the question increasingly worrying the outgoing leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) headed by Hu Jintao, which is to hand over to a new party leadership headed by Xi Jinping at the 18th Party Congress starting at Beijing on November 8 next. 3. The orchestration of the process for transforming Bo Xinlai from a senior party leader on the way up in the party hierarchy into a non-person on the way down to oblivion is continuing without respite.

4. After having removed him from all posts held by him in the party and from primary membership of the party on a plethora of charges, the secretariat of the National People’s Congress (NPC) has now removed him from the NPC membership. This is meant to ensure that when he is tried before a criminal court, he will not be able to claim immunity from a criminal trial.

5. The way is now cleared for his criminal trial. The present party leadership headed by Hu is planning and hoping to have it completed before the new party leadership takes over. Even after the November 8 Party Congress, Hu will continue to hold office as the State President till the NPC Congress next March, which will designate the new President and Prime Minister. He will also continue to be the Chairman of the Central Military Commission till the party decides that Xi should take over this post too.

6. Thus even after November 8, Hu will continue to have the authority of the State and PLA apparatus, but the party apparatus will no longer be under his control.In China, of the three apparatuses—the Party, the State and the PLA— it is the control of the party apparatus that is the most important.

7. The present leadership of the Party Politburo and its Standing Committee has been totally behind Hu in his attempts to have the trial of Bo completed and the final judgement pronounced before the next party leadership takes over.

8.Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who will control the process for the criminal trial, has also thrown in his support behind Hu in an unusual and intriguing statement made before a mixed audience of Chinese and foreigners without referring to the case of Bo.

9.Addressing a meeting of diplomats and officials on September 29,2012, at the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square in connection with the 63rd anniversary of the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China, Wen was reported to have said: “Let us rally more closely around the CPC central committee with comrade Hu Jintao as the general secretary. We have followed the overall guideline of making progress while ensuring stability, strengthened and improved macro regulations and given greater priority to stabilising growth. While recognising achievements, we must always keep a cool head. Our country is still at the primary stage of socialism and productivity is not high.”

10. Wen’s call for solidarity with the party leadership headed by Hu coincided with the circulation of a statement attributed to Bo Guagua, son of Bo Xilai,who graduated from Harvard University’s Kennedy School earlier this year, in which he said: “Personally, it is hard for me to believe the allegations that were announced against my father, because they contradict everything I have come to know about him throughout my life. Although the policies my father enacted are open to debate, the father I know is upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty. He has always taught me to be my own person and to have concern for causes greater than ourselves. I have tried to follow his advice. At this point, I expect the legal process to follow its normal course, and I will await the result”.

11.Bo Guagua initially posted his statement in his blog and subsequently sent an E-Mail authenticating it. It is not known whether he is still in the US or has come back to China.

12.According to some remarks in Chinese microblogging sites, the serious allegations made by the Party against Bo Xinlai on September 28 while sacking him from the party have failed to carry conviction with many of his supporters who seem to believe he has been a victim of an over-demonisation campaign due to an inner party struggle between those, like Bo, advocating a greater role for the State in the economy and those opposing it. Their fascination for Bo Xinlai’s transparent style of leadership as against the secretive style of the present leadership headed by Hu remains intact despite the serious charges against him.

13.According to a report circulated by the Agence France Presse: “ Residual support for the charismatic Bo has worried a Chinese leadership that insists on total allegiance to the course set by the party and the attack on Bo is meant to exterminate it.” It has quoted an observer as saying that some protesters in recent anti-Japan demonstrations over a disputed island chain carried banners that voiced support for Bo, which alarmed many people in the party.

14. The developing political situation in China needs to be closely monitored. Till now, the leadership headed by Hu and Wen seems to have the situation under control, but there are signs of nervousness. (30-9-12)

(The writer is B.Raman, Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E-mail: Twitter @SORBONNE75)

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