The Standing Committee of Nine – the winning coalition that rules the People’s Republic of China – is cautiously preparing the canvas for a relatively bloodless transition of power from supreme leader Hu Jintao to supreme leader Xi Jinping. It is doing so under close international and internal scrutiny following the challenge launched from within its ranks by Bo Xilai, son of one of the ‘Immortals’ who worked with Mao Zedong to mastermind the Red Revolution.
Because of his popularity among the people, and his manipulation of Maoism as a challenge to the wealth-seeking members of the Standing Committee of Nine, China’s dictators have moved with great care to undermine his position before taking Bo Xilai down.
Bo’s wife, Gu has been ‘tried’ and found guilty of pre-meditated murder. The court handed down a suspended death sentence – suspended no doubt in order to extract incriminating information from her about Bo’s transgressions of the law. Bo’s former chief-of -police , Wang Lijun, has been ‘tried’ and found guilty of helping to cover up the murder and of fleeing to a U.S. consulate in a vain attempt to seek political asylum. A relatively light penalty of 15 years was handed down, undoubtedly because Wang ratted out Bo in return for clemency. In both instances, the trials were show cases, staged for political purposes and devoid of any hint of due process. Such is the way of dictators.
Now the stage is set for the culminating show trial prior to the transition of power. Bo Xilai, it was announced today, is to be thrown out of the Communist Party, stripped of public office, and will face multiple criminal charges that include massive bribe-taking, inappropriate sexual relations, murder cover-up and abuse of power. The news was released immediately prior to the Moon Festival of September 30, which is celebrated with a week-long national holiday.
Conviction on those charges will effectively end Bo Xilai’s political career – in the absence of a successful coup d’etat by powerful security forces closer to Bo than to the Standing Committee. In the absence of such a coup, Bo’s life may be spared in return for silence about the extensive corruption that engulfs all of China’s leading dictators. No doubt he will see out his remaining days under house-imprisonment or worse.
The Standing Committee of Nine has announced that the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party will start on November 8, 2012. The meeting has been delayed by several weeks to allow time for the dictators to take down Bo Xilai without, hopefully, provoking a major coup.
My own expectation is that the new supreme leader, Xi Jinping, will not serve out his full ten years in office. The Communist Party of China and its stooges on the Standing Committee – most likely henceforth of seven rather than nine – will be taken down by a successful coup if not by a popular bamboo revolution, well before 2022.