Bo Xilai and the Networks of Corruption in Chongqing

For the Sydney Morning Herald, John Garnaut tells the tale of the inner workings of Chongqing politics, where Bo Xilai, the Communist Party boss, has launched a high-profile crackdown on corruption but failed to eradicate gangster activity among some powerful people close to him, including Weng Zhenjie, member of the standing committee of the municipality’s NPC, who was accused of corruption by a fellow NPC delegate: ”This is the most brutal battle in Chongqing’s business community since liberation,” says a manager at one of Chongqing’s largest and well-connected private companies, who knows both protagonists well. This, after all, is the thriving Yangtze River metropolis where China’s only maverick leader, Communist Party boss Bo Xilai, has gained nationwide acclaim by reclaiming the streets from the city’s mafia. Bo has thrown thousands of lesser ”black society” gangsters and their Communist Party protectors in jail and executed several, including the vice-president of the Supreme Court. As well as ”striking black”, Bo Xilai has been “singing red” by leading his city in rousing cultural revolution songs. He has launched an ambitious ”red GDP” campaign to strengthen state ownership, build public housing and accelerate China’s (already breakneck) urbanisation by coaxing and pushing peasants off their land. And yet, throughout it all, Weng Zhenjie has managed to grow bigger. The ascendencies of big brother Weng and comrade Bo reveal the alchemy of power in China today and a signal as to where the country may be heading. Both men have spun astonishingly complex webs of loyalty and patronage through the Communist Party and its red-blood aristocracy. They have exploited every lever at their disposal and chosen their targets carefully. The article goes on to detail Bo Xilai’s family’s tragic history with the Communist Party, which he appears to have overlooked in order to curry favor for ...
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