Bo Xilai Focuses Multiparty Vision as Defense Lawyer’s Case Proceeds in Chongqing

Asia Times writes about how Bo Xilai, Party Secretary of Chongqing, is shaking up China’s party politics. Bo made headlines in the past year for his move to wipe out corruption in Chongqing:

In fact, what Bo Xilai, the 61-year-old party secretary of Chongqing, a sprawling city of 30 million people, is doing is changing the rules of the political game in China. As soon as he went to the city in 2008, he broke the traditional succession truce with his predecessor, Wang Yang, and launched an unprecedented anti-mafia campaign. It was something that Beijing people saw as an insult to Wang, a fellow Politburo member who was moved to head the Guangdong party. Why had Wang tolerated the mafia when Bo would not? Was it really the mafia, or was it something else? Later, Bo brushed up on Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) songs and dances to inspire the common people with renewed idealistic ardor, obscuring the fact that during that period he had been imprisoned just because his father, Bo Yibo, was branded a ”black element”. It was a line he started on its own and that actually perplexed Beijing leaders, uncertain about what to think of this local campaign: whether to approve it and allow it to spread nationwide, or censor it and thus expose the rift in the party’s allegedly unified propaganda policy. In either case, Bo had set the agenda, and Beijing was on the defensive. Thus Beijing astutely decided to simply ignore it. This did not extinguish Bo’s fire.

Meanwhile, the high-profile case of lawyer Li Zhuang, is underway in Chongqing. Li’s case is being carefully watched by the legal community in China; he has been charged with fabricating evidence while defending a gangster in Chongqing convicted during Bo Xilai’s crackdown:

The lawyer, Li Zhuang, a 50-year-old from Beijing, has been accused of inciting a client to fake testimony. Mr. Li was previously convicted on similar charges after one of his clients, a convicted gangster from the western city of Chongqing, testified against him late last year; Mr. Li is currently serving 18 months in prison. Yet few Chinese commentators seem to believe that Mr. Li is guilty in either case. Many think he was framed for fighting what many see as a crude campaign against corruption. “The Li Zhuang case is so important because it is an indicator of how far China has come on its legal reform,” said a Peking University law professor, He Weifang, who has also posted a sharp criticism of the case on his blog. “It sets China’s legal reform back 30 years.”

Read more about Bo Xilai and his crackdown on corruption via CDT, including the recent open letter by He Weifang which discusses Li Zhuang’s case:

In the midst of the hearing on appeal of this case, something extremely strange happened: Li Zhuang, who had firmly denied his guilt in the first trial, suddenly entirely admitted his guilt. We are powerless to get to the bottom of the reasons behind this dramatic shift, but when the court announced that, owing to his confession, Li Zhuang’s sentence would be reduced to 18 months from 30 months, Li Zhuang clearly bore the marks of humiliation and anger of one hoodwinked, and he shouted out: “My confession is fake. I hope the court does not handle me according to this plea bargain, as my confession was induced by the Chongqing Public Security Bureau and prosecutors” (see report from Economic Observer Online, February 9, 2010). Li Zhuang’s words show that he had not admitted guilt.


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