Flashy style seen behind downfall of China’s Bo

Despite their popularity in Chongqing and elsewhere, criticisms emerged. Legal scholars accused Mr. Bo and Mr. Wang, as police chief, of ignoring due process. Private businesses grumbled they were being falsely accused in a bid for shakedowns.

Combined, Mr. Bo’s two campaigns smacked of the mass mobilization tactics of Mao.

“He opened up the risk of once more using mass movements and campaigns toward factional infighting inside the leadership,” said Francois Godement, China expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

In being sidelined, Mr. Bo’s popularity seemed undimmed among many who say his anti-gangland crackdown was a fitting response to China‘s pervasive corruption.

Bo Xilai is down. The ones that are most happy are the gangs,” Yu Fenghui, a financial commentator, wrote on Sina Weibo. “Gangs across the country should drink all through the night to celebrate it today.”

For now, Mr. Bo remains in limbo, although observers say he likely will avoid formal reprimand. He could be assigned a powerless ceremonial position while retaining his privileges as part of a deal to avoid more inner-party turbulence.

The decisive handling of his case shows the might of the party’s personnel management system, while its built-in safeguards preventing the rise of a political strongman likely saved Mr. Bo greater humiliation, said Ding Xueliang, professor of social sciences at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

“In the old days, under a powerful leader such as Mao, Bo would have been simply crushed to bits,” Mr. Ding said.

Associated Press reporter Isolda Morillo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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