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Inside China: Beijing’s hot Bo-tato
Question of the Day
“Bo Xilai turned out to be the cleanest senior cadre our country has produced,” exclaimed one tweet in the popular Sina Weibo messaging service.
Many Chinese citizens share that sentiment, and it is not without merit.
If all the charges against Mr. Bo are true — that he indeed took bribes and embezzled state funds in the amount of several million yuan — it would not have amounted to much, considering to the stupefying level and scope of official corruption committed by many other senior Communist Party officials throughout China.
The 90-year-old schoolteacher mother of former Premier Wen Jiabao, dubbed the “People’s Premier,” for example, was reported in a New York Times story as having a bank account worth $120 million — all accumulated while her son was China’s vice prime minister and then prime minister.
“The prime minister’s relatives have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion,” The Times said in the expose, which earned the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize.
Mr. Bo also rebuffed a charge of abuse of power, mainly related to an incident involving the attempted defection to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu by his police chief, Wang Lijun. The prosecution claimed Mr. Bo had threatened to kill Mr. Wang.
He asserted that Mr. Wang fled to the U.S. Consulate because he was having an affair with Mr. Bo’s wife. Mr. Bo discovered love letters to his wife and, in a rage, punched Mr. Wang in the face. Fearing for his own safety, Mr. Wang then attempted his defection, but the U.S. Consulate turned him away.
“My slapping forced him to flee [to the Americans]. That was the mistake I made,” Mr. Bo said in court, clearly relishing his newly gained notoriety.
“But that punch I threw at him inadvertently revealed a traitor, which is not really a small feat to accomplish.”
The party will soon decide its verdict in the case that observers say likely will be guilty.
• Miles Yu’s column appears Fridays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @yu_miles.
About the Author
Miles Yu’s column appears Fridays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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