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2012/04/27 / Horace

Bo Xilai: One side first, then the other, but never two sides together

Bo Xilai has been in the centre of China’s biggest political scandal ever for quite some time, and media outside China has been focused on the internal conflict among Chinese political elites, Bo’s wife and son Bo Guagua and Gu Kailai and the mysterious death of Neil Heywood.

However, media of democratic countries have somehow lost a very important criteria of judging an official: whether his people loves him or not. Bloggers are never the “people.” Usually writing uncensored blog posts requires good knowledge on using proxy, which most Chinese do not have.

Meanwhile, on China’s state media, news has been flooded by local party officials endorsing the Central Committee’s decision as “correct and timely” and urging everyone to “determinedly support the Central Committee’s decision.”

Well, that does not mean we don’t have any voice from the people. On Chongqing News, a government tightly controlled local news programme, Chongqing locals, confidently and sternly, appreciate Bo’s removal, with one lady even saying “it makes us feel social equality.”

“Social equality” is what Chongqing Model, which Bo Xilai has been advocating through his reign, is about. Bo did carry out some spectacular moves to achieve so.

He cracked down local mafia, removed corrupted officials and did improve local safety and stability. (It is controversial since Bo has also been reported to confiscate assets of private enterprises in the name of cracking down on mafia, but who knows whether these private enterprises are connected with mafia?) He initiated cheap housing projects, and even once Chongqing police dispatched SWAT to help immigrant workers get back their wages which were maliciously delayed by their employers.

For quite sometime, liberal as I am, I have been an active supporter of Chongqing. I didn’t like Chongqing TV flooded with Maoist ideals, I didn ‘t like Bo’s movement of singing red revolutionary songs, but I did think he was addressing something China is lacking – equality and justice.

Liberals in China are almost nothing but those sitting in their studies and criticizing China’s authoritarian system but never spending a minute on ordinary people’s problems like inflation, housing, wages and else. While Bo’s administration could dispatch SWAT to help immigrant workers get their payment. Bo’s move was of course populist, but was also popular and deserved such popularity.

And that was what we used to hear on Chinese media. Suspicious as some liberals are, Chinese media is generally positive about Bo’s governance in the city. And a positive attitude is so among many Chongqing residents. He is still welcome and sympathized, according to Voice of America.

But now, this part of the story is gone. On Chinese media, nothing endorsing Bo can be found now. Nothing.

We have learnt that Bo’s Chongqing Model was based on high debt, unsustainable and was just to satisfy his desire to become a member of the Standing Committee of Poliburo. Bo is also reported to have transferred huge quantities of assets abroad and involved in an air tragedy which killed over 100 people.

This side of the story has been heard enough now. It is what we have been hearing these days, but when Bo had not fallen, could you find such things on Chinese media? Nothing.

Jiang Weiping, a journalist who exposed Bo’s corruption on Hong Kong media, was sentenced to 5 years in jail and spent another 3 years under house arrest.

First, we could only hear everything positive and nothing negative, and now, we could only hear everything negative and nothing positive. First one side, and then the other side, but the two sides have never appeared together.

“This inland port city of around 30 million population, which was silence, has made swift leaps in recent dozens of years and become one of the world’s metropolis.(这个大约有3千万人口,一度沉寂的内陆港口城市,近几十年来突飞猛进,一跃跻身于世界大都会行列)”

I copied these lines from the Chinese website of Voice of America and tweeted them on my Weibo. I believe these sentence shall also be remembered as clearly as Bo’s sin and crime. Then a few minutes later, I received a message from Sina Weibo admin that my tweet had been hidden and no longer available to others.

Remember: I was simply posting what was once said thousands of times before the fall of Bo Xilai and my tweet was an endorsement of Chongqing.

Chongqing is always there with its two sides. One side, or the other, but two sides are never allowed to appear together.

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