At this year’s NPC meetings, Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai is making headlines as a charismatic contender for the Politburo’s Standing Committee during the 2012 leadership transition. From the Independent:
At 60, Bo is comparatively young, and has done it all in China: he has been a big-city mayor, provincial governor and trade tsar. He is seen as a maverick but even more unusually for a leading Chinese politician, he oozes charisma and charm.
He is also Communist royalty: his father, Bo Yibo, was the last of a group of party leaders who consolidated their power in the 1980s and 1990s, oversaw the Tiananmen Square massacre, and are known as the “Eight Immortals”.
The question of whether Bo will rise to the top of the Communist hierarchy is significant because the battle for these posts coincides with a moment when China’s new-found international power is upsetting US and European leaders. There are growing concerns about the distorting effects of China’s currency, while inside China, rampant corruption and the gap between rich and poor are fuelling protests.
When it came to trade tensions over European socks and Chinese-made bras, Mr Bo has already demonstrated his tough side, facing down the then EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson. Some say his media-conscious publicity-seeking side will work against him. But this is a man who is no stranger to adversity.
See also “Bo Xilai’s charm offensive is paying off politically in China” from the Washington Post; “China’s gang-busting city boss gets a national audience” from AFP; and “Chongqing chief gets star treatment” from China Daily.