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10:55AM

Fascinating scandal with potential to destroy much more than the politician

Fascinating twist to an already overwrought bit of political drama. Bo Xilai was the poster boy for analysts who predicted a Maoist, right-wing reaction to the growing sense among the princeling/coastal crowd that another wave of reform/liberalization is due (what "Uncle Wen" has been peddling for a while now).

While we will never know how he would have fared, absent the personal issues, in any such struggle, I still think he was going down no matter what and that this set of circumstances just made it easy.

But what's fascinating now is the extent of his privileged family's misdeeds.  This is the kind of stuff that opposition parties jump all over, but in China, because it's all one big Party, it must be simultaneously purged and condemned publicly and shoved under the rug. I think the awkwardness of this whole show may prove to be a turning point on thinking within the Party that ultimately it needs to create its own acceptable opposition before circumstances force it in a far more destabilizing fashion.

No, I'm not moving off my timetable of the late 2020s (although I'm always open to being pleasantly surprised). I'm just calling this out as a potential milestone on that path.

Reader Comments (4)

A Chinese Dick Wolf could use this for a great episode of Law and Order:Beijing.

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick O'Connor

"Bo Xilai was the poster boy for analysts who predicted a Maoist, right-wing reaction to the growing sense among the princeling/coastal crowd that another wave of reform/liberalization is due"

How would a neo-Maoist movement be classified as right-wing reactionary?

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterende

Why the 2020s? Because it would make the current regime 70 years old and the same age as the USSR when it collapsed?

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Nunes Silva

I would think the end of this decade is a better bet for regime change. The lack of reforms and re-emphasizing state investment, plus collapsing trade growth is hastening the day of much lower growth or even a major economic downturn. That could be disaster for the CCP. Their legitimacy is built on high economic growth. If you take that away they could be very vulnerable. I saw a market research report comparison that showed the higher the economic growth of Asian countries the more satisfied the populace was with their economic plight. China was an outlier in the survey. China was closer to Mongolia and Cambodia, then more successful countries like Thailand. This sentiment could spell trouble for the regime if the economy dramatically worsens. Even the regime has said that growth below 8% could cause "instability." We'll get to see if they were correct in the next few years. Having lived in China for 7 years and now leaving it just feels like this growth party is now pretty much over.

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Dunn

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