Category Archives: Chongqing Model/Bo Xilai

“Hopes, Fears Surround China’s Transition Of Power”

NPR’s Louisa Lim has a piece about the leadership change, describing the prospects and factions that we’ll be watching and the effects of the Wang Lijun affair:

The generation of new leaders came of age in very different times. Many of them studied social sciences at university in the 1980s, the most liberal era in modern China, allowing them to become familiar with Western intellectual thought. Most of them have traveled abroad; Xi’s daughter is studying at Harvard. According to U.S. diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks, Vice President Xi Jinping has specifically mentioned his love of Hollywood movies, specifically Saving Private Ryan.

Cheng Li, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, says this generation of leaders is “more cosmopolitan.”

“And also because of their educational background in law and political science, they may be less scared of political experimentation or rule of law,” Li continues. “That’s certainly a hope, but there’s also a fear that this generation may also be more nationalistic, more arrogant, maybe sometimes too bold or risk-takers. We don’t know.”

Brookings’ Li describes the new reality as “one party, two coalitions” — in other words, “populists versus elitists, or Communist Youth League versus princelings” — requiring leadership by consensus. Political analysts frequently cite Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party — in which the factionalization has become institutionalized — as an example of how China’s Communist Party could develop.

“You do see this kind of factional infighting become increasingly transparent, and Chinese society, Chinese intellectual community and Chinese leadership becoming more diversified or pluralistic,” says Li. “That’s a welcome development, but it also poses serious challenges.”

However, a political drama currently roiling the country could signal the outbreak of a new factional war. Wang Lijun was a hero and the crime-busting top cop in the southern city of Chongqing — until 10 days ago, when he was reassigned to become a deputy mayor, with duties including overseeing sanitation and public records.

Then Wang fled to the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, and spent an entire day holed up there. At first, the Chongqing government claimed he was on leave, undergoing “vacation-style therapy” for stress. But now the central authorities have announced an investigation. Some speculate that, faced with a corruption investigation, Wang had tried to claim asylum; others hint that he might have been seeking shelter after falling out with his former boss, Bo Xilai, a prominent member of the Communist Party’s princeling faction, who was once a contender for a top political spot.

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“Wang Lijun, Episode One”

Another detailed description of what happened with Wang Lijun, this time pieced together by Siweiluozi based on tweets sent by a Chinese netizen:

1. At 5pm on 6 February, Wang returned home to his residence. The men keeping him under surveillance reported: “All normal!” Then three of the six surveillance teams were dismissed, leaving three teams posted at the front and rear of the house, with one team on call. Each surveillance team consisted of three members. After spending half an hour observing the scene from his window, Wang decided that their Butguard had slackened. He then immediately made himself up as an old woman, started up a car that he had earlier fitted with normal license plates, and leisurely drove out [of the residence compound]. He then switched to license plates belonging to the Chongqing Public Security Bureau and sped off.

The next ten steps lay out what may have happened- the third one is absolutely crazy.

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“Wang Lijun, Bo Xilai, and the US Consulate: What Happened”

Whoa. Xujun Eberlein has an important post on Inside-Out China, potentially explaining the Wang Lijun affair:

What on earth happened that led to Wang Lijun’s “defection” into the US consulate in Chengdu? Below is what I heard while in China. Keep in mind part of this is informed speculation, so take it with a grain of salt.

First, Wang Lijun was not seeking asylum with the US as some have guessed. He was running away from Bo Xilai and seeking the protection of Beijing’s Party Central, and he used the US consulate as a safe house, possibly also a message relay point. He waited an entire day until the people sent from Beijing arrived, at which point he walked out of the US consulate “of his own volition,” as state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland put it.

Wang then walked into a melee between two forces waiting outside: Seventy police wagons sent by Bo Xilai, and agents of State Security sent from Beijing. The two parties scuffled and argued about who would take Wang Lijun into custody. In the end, Wang’s plan worked: he was escorted to Beijing instead of Chongqing.

How Wang escaped Bo’s control and drove three hours from Chongqing to Chengdu’s US consulate on the 6th is still unclear. It is said that Wang used the excuse of visiting a university and received Bo’s approval. Which university is that? It must be somewhere between Chongqing and Chengdu to provide Wang the possibility of escape.

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Wang Lijun is now in the hands of Party Central. It will be very interesting to see how (or if) Beijing will explain his role reversal to the public. As to Bo Xilai, his hope to ascend is probably finished, though, as I heard someone say, don’t rule him out yet!

This is huge if she’s right. Bo Xilai has been a central figure in the leadership transfer speculation, and him falling from grace would impact a lot of the conclusions that people have come to about what will happen.

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Filed under 2012 power transfer, Chongqing Model/Bo Xilai, Communist Party

“Time for China to Say Goodbye to the ‘Chongqing Model’?”

WSJ’s China RealTimeReport looks at the Wang Lijun/US embassy affair, and tries to draw wider conclusions about the competing Chongqing and Guangdong models:

It’s noteworthy that Wang Lijun had been putting himself forward in the media as a driving force in correcting society. Perhaps Wang saw himself as a political alternative to Bo should the latter leave for Beijing and his sudden departure was the result of being told that outcome was impossible. Was Wang concerned enough about his own future—at the hands of his political adversaries or the enemies in the underworld he was fighting — that he thought political asylum in the United States offered his best protection against retaliation?

Or did Wang have no intention of fleeing the country in the first place? Was he instead trying to signal others that he had something that threatened to bring down the political temple that Bo has built?

Whatever the case, this is no local issue. There are larger matters at play here—including whether or not the so-called “Chongqing model” of high technology and a hardline for society has now been thrown into question by the leave-taking of someone so crucial to the whole enterprise. How strong is the house if one of the architects now seems to have problems with the design?

Then there’s the ongoing leadership transition in Beijing. With Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao about to step down, much has been made of Bo being a possible candidate for elevation to the Communist Party’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee. This latest development will be a challenge for him to overcome in that quest, given that the last thing the central leadership wants in the run-up to the handover is acrimony in the party ranks. Bo will need to convince others above that he’s capable of ensuring unity in his own backyard before he’s entirely trusted at the high table.

On the flip side, the commotion in Chongqing should help Guangdong leader Wang Yang in his own grab for a spot in the Communist Party’s inner circle. In contrast to Bo, Wang Yang’s political strategy reflects the view of the reformist wing of the Party that hardline policies are ill-suited to satisfying Chinese society. Wang Yang is now well-positioned to make the argument that a less draconian approach to maintaining order helps keep the walls of the Party apparatus from shaking.

Still a lot of conjecture, but interesting nonetheless.

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Filed under 2012 power transfer, Chongqing Model/Bo Xilai, Guangzhou Model