What's the Latest Development?
Last February, a real-life crime novel unfolded at the top levels of the Chinese Communist Party, exposing some of its leaders as corrupt cutthroats. Americans became aware of the scandal when Party official Wang Lijun fled for his life to an American consulate in the city of Chengdu. Seeking political asylum, Wang said he had knowledge of a murder carried out by the family of Bo Xilai—his boss—a sixty-two-year-old Party Secretary, who was, until that instant, to participate in the national transfer of power to a newer generation of leaders. Wang was not granted asylum and has since disappeared into Chinese custody.
What's the Big Idea?
The Bo Xilai family is emblematic of how China's state capitalism can create rich and powerful oligarchies, perhaps dampening Western analysts’ infatuation with the success of China's economic management. "The gap between rich and poor has become so inflammatory and unsustainable that the Chinese government has simply stopped releasing an official measure of the distribution of wealth." Ironically, Bo made his name channelling Mao’s call for social equity while his wife maintained a business worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In the years ahead, the government's willingness to be transparent will pose a major challenge.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com