Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bo Xilai Is Replaced

From the land where politics is played with a hardball comes the stunning news that Chongqing mayor, princeling incomparable and purveyor of scrubbed Maoist nostalgia Bo Xilai (薄熙来) has been replaced by a central government official.

The Yomiuri Shimbun speculates, in an article entitled "The firing of Chongqing's top official: aiming at an early resolution of internal political strife?" (J) that Bo's departure comes as a result of Bo's conflicts with President Hu Jintao, without specifying what Hu's problems with Bo might be. It also hints that the preemptive removal is an echo of Hu's previous struggles with allies of former President Jiang Zemin, the so-called Shanghai Clique.

The Mainichi Shimbun's article, "The firing of Chongqing's top official: in the leadership group, the severe political struggle" (J) goes into the fine detail of the background of Bo's firing, most particularly the peculiar Wang Liqun asylum episode. The article presents Bo's removal as Hu's protecting his own princeling and dauphin Xi Jinping, the guardian of the legacy of Hu's Chinese Communist Party's Youth League clique in the leadership. Bo's revival of the singing of "Red songs," including tunes from the Cultural Revolution when the CCP turned upon itself, was simply the most easily mockable aspect of a deeper and more cutting criticism of the inequalities in society that have been built up under the leadership of Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao.

The paper states that the toppling of Bo is a blow against both what it calls the "conservative faction" and the princelings, seemingly hinting that even the princelings of the "Youth League faction" have to watch their backs.

The Asahi Shimbun's account (J) is straight reporting of the removal of Bo and also of Wang, without commentary.

More later, as the various news organizations offer their analyses.

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