Bo Xilai Trial, Scripted and Unscripted
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
August 22, 2013
Summary: Bo Xilai, a shining hero who fought corruption, has ended up in prison as the result of a policy of fighting corruption. The case has exposed high CCP official duplicity. The case has exposed the soft underbelly of modernization on Mainland China. Many on Taiwan may scoff at the Bo Xilai trial. But have we recovered the money that the Chen family embezzled from us? What progress is being made on that front? What is there for us to be so proud about?
Full text below:
Seventeen months after being removed from office, Bo Xilai is being tried by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court. He faces charges of corruption, bribery, and three counts of abuse of power. The judges have already established the framework by which he will be tried. They have already written the script. The trial is unlikely to present any surprises. More interesting is how the public, which has not read the script, will react to Bo Xilai's trial. Will a stray spark set off a powderkeg?
This could be the greatest threat to former Politburo member and Chongqing party secretary Xi Jinping's succession., Inside and outside the Communist Party, opinion regarding Bo Xilai's crimes remains polarized. There appears to be clear evidence of his corruption and abuse of power. His wife Gu Kailai has already been conviced of murder. Yet many on the Mainland still see him as a hero who "waved the red flag in order to expose corruption." They consider him a victim of an upper echelon political power struggle. That is why the case is being tried in public. The government hopes to weaken the political and social influence of Bo supporters. That is why the Mainland authorities are crossing every t and dotting every i.
Over the past 17 months, Bo Xilai has been removed from office, detained, interrogated, arrested, and prosecuted. The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee has been proceeding carefully, by the book. This is "criminal justice with Chinese characteristics." First establish the goal and the framework. Exclude all unwanted outcomes. Establish the offenses and charges. Then conduct a public hearing. The trial will take place in Jinan, Shandong, rather than Chongqing or Dalian, where Bo Xilai was originally charged. On the surface the change of venue ensures an objective and neutral investigation. In fact the motive is to avoid interference from Bo faction members and supporters. All these factors were carefully considered.
The trial was custom tailored to fit Bo Xilai. The CCP Central Committee made many arrangements to that end. They include the following. One. Once Xi Jinping came to power, he vigorously "fought corruption." The people of Chongqing praised Bo Xilai's "fight against corruption." Xi hitched a ride on this sentiment. At the same time, Xi used the fight against corruption to lash out against Bo. Two. Earlier this month, Xi Jinping ordered an investigation of Bo ally and former Politics and Law Committee member Zhou Yongkang. Zhou is accused of accumulating wealth by unfair means. Also under investigation is Bo party comrade and Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Xu Caihou. He is accused of "violating party discipline." These are preliminary moves to purge Bo allies. Three. Bo is accused of taking bribes worth over than 20 million RMB, and of embezzling over five million in public monies. Actually this is nowhere near what the Bo family has accumulated through corruption. This is to avoid Bo Xilai being sentenced to death, and to deprive him of any possibility of a political comeback.
The Chinese Communist Party allegedly has an unwritten law. Once one has become a member of the inner circle, one may not be subject to the death penalty. Politburo members who have served as senior cadres, may not be sentenced to death. Those familiar with the claim have speculated about this unwritten law. Bo Xilai will be subject to long imprisonment. At most he may be spared the death penalty. This is the most the party can do to resolved any disagreements over punishment.
In fact, a full year ago, on August 20 last year, Gu Kailai's death sentence for the murder of British businessman Neil Haywood was lifted. That day Gu Kailai praised the court's verdict as an "impartial judgment." Gu said the judgment of the court reflected extraordinary respect for reality and for life. Gu said these are profoundly Chinese traits. Bo Xilai has long been ambitious and domineering. How will he comport himself during his trial? Will he remain low-keyed, confessional, and resigned to his fate?
This is a critical period. Ths judicial drama has a pre-written script. Yet it remains hard to rule out unwelcome surprises. This is why the CCP has rejected calls that the trial be broadcast live, in its entirety. Instead, the transcript will be broadcast live and direct. This is also a "Chinese characteristics" style invention. Apparently the only way to ensure that Bo Xilai "behaves himself" at the trial, is to ensure that his son Bo Guagua remains in the United States and continues to enjoy security, wealth, and freedom. This will be traded for Bo's acquiescence to the administration of justice.
The CCP has been writing the script for Bo's live broadcast trial for the past ten months. Will today present any surprises? That depends upon Bo's willpower and mindset. Bo engaged in corruption and abuse of power. He trampled over the system. That is no longer in doubt. But will he attempt to exploit the last vestiges of his prestige in court? Will he become an embarrassment to the Mainland authorities? That remains to be seen.
This is ironic. A shining hero who fought corruption, has ended up in prison as the result of a policy of fighting corruption. The case has exposed high CCP official duplicity. Also ironic is how the Mainland has become the world's factory, yet is uses such a highly politicized, Rube Goldberg system of justice. The case has exposed the soft underbelly of modernization on Mainland China. Many on Taiwan may scoff at the Bo Xilai trial. But have we recovered the money that the Chen family embezzled from us? What progress is being made on that front? What is there for us to be so proud about?
2013.08.22 03:47 am