Friday, August 23, 2013

Bo Xilai’s ‘fair and open trial’ smells like arbitrary rule - My Op-Ed in today's Globe and Mail

Bo Xilai’s ‘fair and open trial’ smells like arbitrary rule - The Globe and Mail

But despite full awareness in China that Mr. Bo, like most senior officials, has accumulated a massive fortune through various forms of kickbacks, he remains very popular among a significant part of the Chinese underclass. While boss of Chongqing, he enacted a number of populist measures in the city of nearly 30 million, including a very visible crackdown on organized crime, providing subsidized housing accessible to ordinary citizens, and extending social welfare measures to migrant workers. People see him as a supporter of the solidarity with workers and farmers that informed the Communist Party's rise to power in 1949.

This is in strong contrast to Mr. Bo's fellow senior leaders, former premier Wen Jiabao and former president Hu Jintao. They periodically made vague promises of respect for democracy, human rights and comprehensive rule of law at some undefined time in the future, when the developmental conditions are "right." But, clearly, that day is not coming any time soon. Instead, the income gap between the party elite and the lower classes gets wider year by year, with no sign of abating. Mr. Bo gave people hope of a developmental model offering more substantive benefits and justice for the rest.