Andrew Jacobs describes the Party’s feared shuanggui internal disciplinary system, into which Bo Xilai cast several of his political rivals in Chongqing, and now appears to have fallen himself. From The New York Times:
Membership in the Chinese Communist Party has many advantages. Officials often enjoy government-issued cars, bottomless expense accounts and the earning potential from belonging to a club whose members control every lever of government and many of the nation’s most lucrative enterprises.
There is, however, one serious downside. When party members are caught breaking the rules — or even when they merely displease a superior — they can be dragged into the maw of an opaque Soviet-style disciplinary machine, known as “shuanggui,” that features physical torture and brutal, sleep-deprived interrogations.
[…] Few who have been pulled into the system emerge unscathed, if they emerge at all. Over the last decade, hundreds of officials have committed suicide, according to accounts in the state news media, or died under mysterious circumstances during months of harsh confinement in secret locations. Once interrogators obtain a satisfactory confession, experts say, detainees are often stripped of their party membership and wealth. Select cases are handed over to government prosecutors for summary trials that are closed to the public.
“The word shuanggui alone is enough to make officials shake with fear,” said Ding Xikui, a prominent defense lawyer here.
Last year, the Dui Hua Foundation translated an account, cited in Jacobs’ article, of a blogger’s visit to a shuanggui facility (via CDT). The introduction to the translation noted that “sadly, acceptance of shuanggui seems to have seeped into international human rights circles and resulted in a dearth of relevant research and advocacy. While stamping out corruption is a worthy cause, it by no means warrants extra-legal detention, torture, or lack of transparency and rule of law.”