I am not a ‘China watcher’, but as an Indian with a sense of disquiet over the government’s neo-liberal policies, Beijing’s announcement of Bo Xilai’s sacking as chief of the Chinese Communist Party in Chongqing provokes me. It is no small matter for a communist party to sack a member of the politburo. Bo was widely expected to be inducted into the 9-member standing committee of the politburo, which is the first circle of power in that vast country of some 1300 million people.
The ‘China watcher’ will wade into seamless speculations. So, let me bring in some breath of fresh air. To my mind, Bo lost out primarily because of the threat posed by his so-called ‘Chongqing model’, which harks back to China’s dogma-ruled Maoist past and accents a state-run economy and egalitarian society.
Bo said recently, “As Chairman Mao said as he was building the nation, the goal of our building a socialist society is to make sure that everyone has a job to do and food to eat, that everybody is wealthy together. If only a few people are rich, then we’ll slide into capitalism. We’ve failed. If a new capitalist class is created, then we’ll really have turned onto a wrong road.”
Now, that is blasphemy – and more so in Xi Jinping’s China. The Party hit back when in extraordinary remarks following the recent National People’s Congress, ‘Grandpa’ Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, warned that China could again go through a “tragedy” like the Cultural Revolution if it failed to pursue the path of reform and opening up that serves the people’s interests. Wen probably had Bo in mind. If so, in the Byzantine corridors of power, Bo lost the way.
Who’s afraid of Bo? Bo’s rising charisma and the attraction of the ‘Chongqing model’ meant he was striking chords with some broader trends that exist in Chinese economy and society, which remain skeptical about ‘reform’ and aspects of national policies such as the fiesty plunge into the market or the growing income inequality that has appeared. His American-style campaign, and his flamboyance and swagger meant he could be unnerving, too — for a communist party anywhere.
Posted in Politics.
– March 17, 2012