Bo Xilai was sacked. Is it somehow significant?

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Jonathan Holslag, Research Fellow, Institute of Contemporary China Studies, Vrije University, Brussels

This is certainly not just a matter of infighting between between the Party fraction around Hu and Wen on the one hand, and the princelings on the other. The decision to sack Bo must have been taken collectively by the member of the standing committee and approved by the central committee. The evidence against him must be very compelling.

I don’t think anyone in the highest ranks of the Party is really going to deplore this. Bo was way to polarizing for Chinese Party politics. However symbolical it is that the dismissal comes just a day after Wen Jiabao talked before the NPC about Cultural Revolution and the tenacity of feudalism, I am not sure whether this confirms the gradual shift towards political reform.

Lawrence C. ReardonChair, Department of Political Science, University of New Hampshire

Bo’s fall is indeed significant.  With the upcoming 18th party congress, Bo has worked hard to move from the political bureau to the standing committee.  While he has yet to be removed from the 25-member political bureau, it is difficult to see any promotion in his future.  He has become too tainted by the actions of his right hand man, Wang Lijun, who has been removed from office despite his hard work in attacking corruption in Chongqing.  Bo also joins other deposed municipal party leaders such as Chen Liangyu (Shanghai) and Chen Xitong (Beijing), who suffered ignominy for their actions in office.

Bo’s fall is also significant as he was the son of one of the most important economic leaders, Bo Yibo,and a prominent member of the”princeling”faction, who make up a substantial number of party elites .

Finally it is important as Bo’s political approach has been compromised.  He represented the Chongqing model, which promoted cleaning up of corruption and criminal gangs using any means possible.  As a supplement, Bo touted moral education, including a revival of singing songs from the Cultural Revolution.  He was seen as promoting a more egalitarian approach to development, versus the Guangdong model and its major proponent , Wang Yang, which promoted economic growth and a degree of greater democratic representation .

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