Principia Discordia > Aneristic Illusions

Your irregular China round-up

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Cain:
I don't follow Chinese politics or the Sinosphere as closely as I should.  This is terrible of me, I know.  On the other hand, I suspect I'm still more well-informed than the average pundit or generic foreign correspondent on the state of play in China, so there is that, at least.

The major news is that Bo Xilai, the highly controversial boss of Chongqing, was deposed two weeks ago.  Aptly enough on the Ides of March, though I think I'm the only one to specifically note that.  Bo had been upsetting modernisers for a long time with his retro use of Maoist slogans and propaganda, and his anti-corruption campaigns, which relied heavily on mass arrests and coerced confessions.  Bo was one of the CCP "princelings", and made no secret of his desire to gain a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee, no doubt supporting the "Chinese New Left" faction that heavily criticised the economic liberalisation of China.

Bo fell from grace when one of his top lieutenants apparently dropped off information at the Chengdu US consulate with proof that Bo was the "biggest gangster of them all" and allegedly tried to gain political asylum.

Bo was deposed from his Chongqin position, though he still retains his Politburo seat.  Still, on the Saturday following his removal and ritual scrubbing from the internet, a red Ferrari crashed in Beijing, and the word Ferrari was added to the censors.  That Bo's son was rumoured to enjoy reaching high speeds in his ref Ferrari (which his father insisted he does not own) has led to a flurry of speculation that Bo's son was taken out.

A British businessman and suspected SIS intelligence asset or bagman, Neil Heywood, was also found dead in Chongqing.  Heywood had significant links with Bo Xilai, so, of course, the rumours have been flying about that.

There were also disturbing rumours about a coup in Beijing around the 20th of March.  Taiwanese papers reported that security forces were massing in the capital, amid the sound of gunfire.  There are also rumours that open factional warfare has broken out within the Politburo.

Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, has been shut down, and several people arrested for "spreading false rumours" about a coup plot.   

Doktor Howl:
Interesting.

China offed Heywood, do you think?  Or was it more of a gangster thing?

Cain:
Could be either.  I tend towards the latter, though the Sinosphere's favourite theory was that Heywood "knew too much" and was bumped off by Bo's allies.

Of course, this is the same Sinosphere who assumed Heywood was the family butler at first, so that should give a clue as to their powers of observation.

Junkenstein:
Cain, could you suggest any sources that would help get an idiots guide to politics in this part of the world? I have pretty much no idea where to begin or what could be regarded as trustworthy.

I've got an inherent suspicion of Taiwanese reports, but armed coups and changes with extreme prejudice aren't in the realms of implausible.

Cain:
Taiwan are actually on pretty good terms with China, nowadays.  It could all go to shit again, of course, but they're a lot closer than many observers realise.

I've found http://shanghaiist.com/ and http://bloodandtreasure.typepad.com/blood_treasure/ and http://chinamatters.blogspot.com/ and atimes.com and http://chinadigitaltimes.net/ to be pretty useful.

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