Sewage Bucket Effect Diminishes

Anti-Bo Xilai campaign indicates the “Sewage Bucket”effect is diminishing
By He Qinglian on Apr 26, 2012
Read the Original Chinese Article

By now the Anti-Bo Xilai campaign initiated by Zhongnanhai is near its end. In hindsight this campaign could be seen as an “internal affair” in which the Communist Party of China (CPC) “purges the 'bad elements'” within its party. Given that the CPC is China's sole long-term ruling party, this is of course one of China's national affairs, and a big one, too. Putting in that much amount of public opinion resources, even resorted to continually feeding information to media of different languages around the world so they have their turns of exclusive stories, Beijing is of course hoping to get something in return.

Lets first look at what those in power have gotten in return. Through the media around the world, the Bo Xilai incident created a theater effect far greater than all monarchs' repression of insurgencies in the history of China. Zhongnanhai made every plan, formulated all winning strategies, prepared for all possible outcomes, fed foreign media every piece of information they wanted to make known and ended the game with the total discredit of Bo and Gu, two members of small and medium red families in the politics circle of China. This result was not brought about because Bo was too incompetent a person; rather, it is the inevitable outcome of the CPC political system which stipulates that local top officials take charge of only the civil matters and not military affairs.

That local top officials have no command over the military serves as the last “firewall” against their challenge to and impact on the central government. The repression of this revolt was unlike the Rebellion of the Seven States that was quelled by Emperor Jing of Han, at that time the princes could have their own army; it was not like Kangxi emperor having to build up his strength before victory could be secured in the fight against the Revolt of the Three Feudatories either. Hu Jintao, the “reigning emperor” has in his hand adequate institutional resources: the army, the police, the state security system, and the propaganda apparatus. To deal with Bo's supporters, Hu's plan is to “shake the mountain to scare the tiger”: obey or end up removed from the list of state leaders, and discredited far and wide like the Bo and Gu families.

That maneuver has successfully resolved the position issue of state leaders and members of the third and fourth generations in the CPC “Board of Red Directors”. All those who have personally experienced the pride the elder princelings take in themselves would know that these people have always regarded themselves as official members of the “Board of Red Directors,” based upon one criterion: their fathers played a part in the CPC establishment of its rule and served as officials at provincial and ministerial levels. As their claims said, “our father fought and sacrificed for the CPC so it could establish its rule.”

Based on this criterion, the elder princelings have always seen people like Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao as chief executive officers hired by Deng Xiaoping to do the housekeeping and are not qualified as official members of the “Board of Red Directors”. The elder princelings are frustrated and angered to see the descendents of the third and fourth generations of leaders blowing hot and cold in the finance industry, reaping huge profits by hook or by crook. Those behind the downfall of Bo were the fourth generation of “CEO” and “deputy CEO” who made their way into the “Board of Red Directors” and earned their official status as chairman, vice-chairman and executive directors by means [akin to] “Management Buy-out”. Some of those elder princelings who at present constitute the 17th National Congress of the CPC will be stepping down from their political or military office in the 18th National Congress by reason of age—they will be between 60 and 70 by then—and other factors. And the upstarts headed by Hu Jintao will over time become the main force of the political circle of China.

What the Chinese people could gain would nothing but a spectacular drama. Scandals about Bo exposed through various channels have again thoroughly shed light on the inevitable ugly outcomes of one-party dictatorship, the secret operation of Chinese politics, power struggle and pervasive corruption. People are convinced more firmly that anti-corruption is only a power struggle tool of the CPC. For example, by bringing to light that the Bo Xilai family have a whopping six billion worth of assets overseas, and questioning the source of high tuition fees that finances Bo Guagua overseas studies, the [messengers] have effectively proven again that senior Chinese officials have huge quantity of assets abroad, and that the pervasive phenomenon of huge number of children of high officials paying high tuition fees to study overseas does indeed exist. However convincing the CPC may sound, they can in no way guarantee that this is only an isolated case, all others officials are clean and have no overseas assets; that the study fees of their children all come from their hard-earned savings. People would even reason that officials of higher ranking would have assets much more substantial than the six billion worth of wealth to the name of the Bo family.

As for those insulting tales about Bo Xilai, they did not just bring shame to the Bo family; rather, they made the country see yet again every of the inherent problems that the CPC has. Just like the tale that said Bo Xilai has 100 mistresses—why this integer 100 instead of 99 or 108 as Chinese would have preferred the most would be something that only the messengers knew—is something the Chinese people encounter so often that they grew accustomed to. Officials at rankings lower than Bo Xilai have even greater number of mistresses.

Regarding the tale that implied Gu Kailai bribed with sex to help her husband Bo Xilai get promotion would only make people realize after all the way a seat in the politburo is secured is so despicable, and in the same way as the lower levels of government officials positions are being traded for money and mistresses. For instance, a ministerial official in Kaifeng, Henan has more than 300 mistresses.

Few people would think the Bo Xilai case occurred only because Gu Kailai was unusually bad a person, the Chinese people have learned from countless incidents that the officials, when in power, all appear to be capable, wise, honorable; and they would become thieves and thugs once they lose power.

Has the ouster of Bo Xilai brought about the opportunity to start a political system reform? That is a splash of bright colors that someone strove to paint onto this power struggle. The proof of this is the comments Wen Jiabao made about line struggle in a press conference on March 14, and the countless times he expressed his yearning for democratic system.

Under the current political circumstance of China, corruption is nothing for princeling like Bo Xilai; taking someone's life is no big thing for him, either. But he rebelled against his superiors, and those crimes would be used as his conviction. To make it clear, from the very beginning to the end, the power struggle this time has totally nothing to do with the so-called “political disagreements” at the top level.

Although Bo Xilai launched the “Singing the Red and hitting the black” campaign in Chongqing, he did not genuinely believe in Mao Zedong's ideology or the Cultural revolution, as his behaviors in years prior to his assumption of the post of the CPC Chongqing Committee Secretary showed. Instead of saying the “singing the red” campaign manifested his political beliefs, it would be more accurate to say that Bo used that campaign as a political means to secure himself some support, and to shape his own political legitimacy.

Hu Jintao, on the other hand, is a true leftist. From the cultural immersion he had gone through, to the way he thinks, as well as the theories and propositions he raised during his two terms, all of them embodied the characteristics of Mao's Left thinking. It was probably his wholehearted belief in Mao Zedong that made Hu reluctant to use the means of “line struggle” to oust Bo Xilai.

Amid the past power struggles in the history of the CPC, a political convention has emerged. The losers would become the “sewage buckets” which the CPC uses to keep itself clean. By placing all the blames on those who lost, the Party continues to be “Glorious, Great and Correct” after the power struggles have ended. This time, however, the campaign to oust Bo Xilai has led to an embarrassing result for the CPC. While there is no question that all those leaked tales portrayed Bo Xilai as a complete villain, the inherent problems of the CPC itself, too, came under the spotlight in the world theater.