“In Bo Xilai scandal, China’s national leaders fear their undoing”

The latest from Tom Lasseter on the Bo scandal:

Many Chinese already have little or no trust in local officials and their allies, who they often believe are corrupt, venal and, at times, murderous. Should they come to believe the same about national figures, then the careful dance that takes place whenever there is unrest in China – people pinning hopes on intervention from the central government – could lose its footing.

In a nation known for reliance on police state tactics, it’s difficult to predict what might follow.

Viewed from the outside, China is a rising economic juggernaut poised for greatness. At home, however, it has struggled to contain the corrosive effects of corruption and abuse of power by officials and their allies. Although hundreds of millions of Chinese were lifted from extreme poverty in the past three decades of growth managed by the Communist Party, public resentment has grown over the widening gap in wealth and privilege.

The story of Bo and his family threatens to feed that dissatisfaction, suggesting an elite increasingly removed from those it governs, a Mafia-like clutch of political families who’ve enriched themselves through corruption.

This past week, notices from the Chongqing public security bureau were plastered on one wall after another in Wansheng, which was absorbed by a neighboring district in December. They gave a long list of infractions that would meet with punishment, including disrupting traffic, confusing the public with rumors, participating in illegal rallies and transmitting slogans by cellphone texts or Internet messages. Guilty parties should turn themselves in or bear serious consequences, the signs said.

At a shop close to a main square, where police vans were still parked along the side of the road, a group of locals looked up nervously when asked why there hadn’t been an initial political solution to their grievances.

One middle-aged man in an olive blazer stood up to leave the shop and, as he passed a reporter, said, “The Chinese government is the most corrupted …” He did not finish the sentence.

A woman behind the counter said that it might be better for the reporter to leave.

“If the police come they will hold me responsible for having you here,” she said. She, like the others, did not give her name.

Another, younger man, sitting on a red stool, asked the room, with scorn in his voice, “Is it useful to write letters in the world of the Communist Party?”

People got quiet. Soon, the shop was empty.

There was another WaPo piece today covering the potential Zhou Yongkang tie-in and the chances of seeing him removed before he has to retire late this year, but they sadly didn’t have much new evidence to add to the case.

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Filed under 2012 power transfer, Chongqing Model/Bo Xilai

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