party melodrama as prelude to the 18th national people’s congress

Shenzhen friends have been speculating about the political-economic shifts we will see as a result of the 18th National People’s Congress. The latest scandal involves Politboro Standing Committee hopeful Bo Xilai (薄熙来) and his henchman slash vice Mayor slash Chief of Police, Wang Lijun (王立军).

The scandal and source of gossip: Wang Lijun visited the US Consulate. The Chongqing military policy surrounded the Consulate, demanding the US to handover Wang Lijun. Beijing sent Qiu Jin, vice Minister of National Security. 24 hours after entering, Wang Lijun “willingly” left the US consulate with Qiu Jin. Subsequently, Bo Xilai went to Kunming for unknown reasons.

I have been trying to understand what’s at stake, why the fallout, and how to read between the lines. This is what I’ve gathered; some of the gossip may even be reliable.

The dramatic background of the Bo Xilai scandal is the fight to become a member of the Politboro Standing Committee, which is a recognized springboard for becoming President and Premier, positions one and two in China. Bo Xilai is one of the more prominent and/or notorious members of China’s Princeling Party (太子党), the generation of Party leaders who have come to power because of their powerful parents. Bo Xilai’s father, Bo Yibo was one of the “eight immortals” of the Deng era Communist Party. The Princelings are in the news because China’s next leader Xi Jinping, son of Communist veteran, Xi Zhongxun is also a Princeling.

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