Bo Xilai Letter Arouses Chinese State Media Infighting
On September 18, Jinan Intermediate People’s Court made an announcement. They will publically pronounce a judgment on former Chongqing Secretary Bo Xilai on September 22. Prior to this, many media were speculating the final outcome of Bo Xilai’s trial. State-controlled Chinese media had become locked in fierce power struggle. Bo Xilai’s supporters continued to promote his innocence What do this complex situation mean for the politics of China, before the sentence is announced? Let’s take a look at our experts analysis.
Bo Xilai was charged with bribery, abuse of power, and appropriating public funds. He is currently in prison, awaiting sentence on Sunday 10:00am, following a five day trail. During the trial, Bo Xilai denied all allegations from the prosecution.
Lan Shu, political commentator:"What he was trying to do in court was preparing to reverse the case in the future. He wagered on the fact that Beijing does not date reveal his military coup and involvement in forced organ harvesting. So, he can thinks he can retract his economic crimes completely."
In a letter to his family, Bo mentioned his father Bo Yibo. His father was in prison multiple times during his life, and he would follow his example. He believed that he would be redressed one day. He insisted that he was innocent, and once again denied crimes relating to Gu Kailai taking bribes, or buying villas in France.
He emphasized that he knew nothing about his wife Gu Kailai murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. On September 15, a mainland website published a Bo Xilai classic quote, of “singing red and striking black" in Chongqing. The Chinese Communist Party magazine Seeking Truth also prominently reprinted an article. The article was called “defend our national hero." It did not name Bo Xilai, but inferred to him as a national hero. This attracted media attention, which led to the original article in Seeking Truth being deleted.
For nine days, the CCP outlet Daily Inspection also published articles deciphering Bo’s case, and the evidence presented. In an article, entitled, “the prosecution evidence has formed a chain in Bo Xilai’s case", they declared that the evidence in Bo’s case can confirm each other and there is no contradiction.
Zhang Jian, China expert, USA:"Based on Bo Xilai’s real crimes, Chinese law would give him the death sentence. He was involved in organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners, and cracking down on many talented entrepreneurs in Chongqing. He is also connected to many other cases of injustice. Now, Seeking Truth magazine equates him to being a national hero. This illustrates that the Chinese Communist Party’s political contest is continuing after Bo Xilai’s trial. There might be a big change in the political direction of China."
Currently, media hold diametrically opposed views on the final judgement of Bo Xilai. Some consider a lenient sentence of 15 years in prison, and some consider a suspended death sentence, or life imprisonment.
Xia Ming, Professor of Political Science, New York City University:"This did not only touched Bo Xilai. It also touched the interests of princeling groups, who are obviously involved behind the scenes."
Xia Ming believes that the reason that the CCP went ahead with the trial of Bo Xilai is not because of his famous “singing red and striking black" campaign. Nor is it because of his involvement in organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners. It is not even because of his corruption. It is just because he attempted to seize the power from Xi Jinping.
Xia Ming:" When Xi Jinping was being groomed to be the next leader, Bo Xilai was the biggest threat to him. This threat is reduced a lot, with Bo Xilai imprisoned. Xi jinping may use Bo Xilai as a bargaining chip to unite leftists, without needing to sentence him to death."
However, Chinese pro-democracy activist Shen Yuan thinks that regardless of the verdict, Bo Xilai’s political life is dead.
Shen Yuan:"Although he was not sentenced to death, he has already died in politics. He could be imprisoned for life, or face a death sentence. Neither will effect the likelihood of his political turnaround."
Hong Kong media suggest that if Bo Xilai is sentenced severely, he would appeal.
In 1998, former Beijing Party Secretary Chen Xitong was sentenced to 16 years in prison. In 2008, former Shanghai Party Secretary Chen Liangyu was sentenced to 18 years. Chen Xitong appealed and was overruled by the Supreme Court of CPC. After them, Bo is the highest-ranking official that has faced sentencing.