“So, bye bye Bo Xilai. Tripped up by your wife and a dead Lao Wai.”

Rectified Name has a post about the latest turn in the Bo Xilai affair- apparently the (widely panned) rumors that Bo may have been involved in the death of a British citizen in Chongqing are true, according to Xinhua. There’s a real risk involved in switching the propaganda gears around so quickly, as Jeremiah Jenne writes:

For nearly two months after the “Lin Biao Affair” in September, 1971, the Party was able to keep a lid on the story, knowing how confused people would be to hear the Mao’s closest comrade at arms and chosen successor had in fact tried to betray the Chairman and then died in the act of defecting to the Soviet Union.[2] By contrast, the Party’s attempts to control the Bo Xilai story over the past few months has been like watching drunk chimps try to make wall art with a bucket of jello and a couple of nail guns.

The problem with rumors is that they’re usually not true. The problem with rumors in China is that people believe them anyway because most people know that the ‘state media’ is nothing but an enormous firehose of steaming donkey shit. The problem with rumors in China NOW is that rumors which at first glance seemed too crazy to be true turned out to be pretty accurate.

Global Times editor Hu Xijin both on Weibo last night and in the paper this morning has been gloating about how this whole mess is really a testament to China’s rule of law. You see, we foreigners have it all wrong. We look at the situation and see a high-ranking Party official run his own personal fiefdom, torturing his enemies and allowing his wife to take become the Tony Montana of Chongqing.[3] What we’re missing is the part where…No, I don’t think we’re missing anything here. That’s pretty much what happened.

Lin Biao’s fall from grace marked the beginning of the end of the Cultural Revolution and, indeed, the Mao era. It forced too many people to confront the very real possibility that the Party had been jerking them around for years.

People today are already very cynical. The government’s annoucement of Bo Xilai’s dismissal and the investigation into his family and associates – essentially confirming rumors that for months the censors have been working overtime to squash – just might be one of those moments.

Or at least part of an ongoing process, with other fundamentally trust-destroying moments like the high-speed disaster last year and the ensuing PR disaster serving as ongoing testaments to the real relationship between the Party and the people.

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Filed under Chongqing Model/Bo Xilai

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