Thursday, January 18, 2007
The key question now is whether this will have any impact on the son's political career, especially on the eve of the 17th Party Congress. While I think it would have been better for the elder to hang on for a few months, Bo junior seems to be on-track for a promotion either to Vice Premier spot or State Councilor. Dad's passing away and Jiang's weakening position will cause a problem for junior on the party side. While I think Bo Xilai has enough political capital to get into the Politburo at the 17th, we might see the emergence of some kind of scandal involving him or his underling after the 17th which effectively will halt future advancements. I think it remains an open question whether he will make it to the PSC. On the other hand, if he is smart, he has already consolidated his ties with Zeng Qinghong, whose control of the security apparatus gives him enormous political leverage. With Zeng's backing, Bo may emerge as a leading contender for the top job at the 18th PC. Things would then get very interesting. At the 17th, you might see this outcome: if Hu asks for either Li Keqiang or Li Yuanchao to be "helicoptered" into the PSC, Zeng will bargain to have Bo Xilai or Xi Jinping (both princelings) "helicoptered" into the PSC. Okay, enough speculation for one day.
Obituaries: Bo Yibo, last of Chinese Communist Party's 'immortals'
By Joseph Kahn
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Bo Yibo, the last of the "Eight Immortal" Communist Party leaders who steered China through a politically volatile shift from Maoism to the market-oriented economic boom of today, died Monday, the official Xinhua press agency announced Tuesday evening. He was 98.
As one of the elderly but immensely influential party veterans who hovered above the country's appointed leadership in the 1980s and 1990s, Bo helped the paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, overcome elite opposition to capitalist- style economic reforms.
Also like Deng, who died in 1997, Bo had little tolerance for political liberalization. He played an important role in purging Hu Yaobang, a popular party boss who favored faster political change, in 1987. He also defended the army crackdown on opposition protesters in Beijing in 1989, which left hundreds of people dead.
Bo was a member of an informal group of eight senior Communist Party leaders who were purged during Mao's Cultural Revolution but experienced a second political life after Deng's return to power in 1978.
All had participated in the Long March, the grueling 8,000-kilometer, or 5,000-mile, flight from Nationalist forces that saved the party from annihilation in China's civil war, and all supported, though to varying degrees, the policy of "reform and opening" that laid the foundation for China's newfound prosperity.
Bo protected the Communist Party's monopoly on power even as he embraced ideologically variable ideas for enlivening the economy, a mix of rigidity and flexibility that has helped the party stay in control despite its internal upheavals and the collapse of the former Soviet Union.
His death is not likely to mark an end to the tradition of retired party leaders' intervening in the affairs of the younger officials. But he was among the last of the Long March veterans whose unassailable revolutionary credentials meant that they could anoint a young official for higher office or help topple a seemingly entrenched party boss who offended his elders.
The subject of political gossip for many years, Bo lived long enough to see the party evolve into a more institutionalized and bureaucratic entity that does not hang to the same degree on the whispered whims of its elders. Today young people rarely discuss high-level politics, and the few remaining Long March survivors who served in high office are generally ignored.
But his influence has been passed on to a new generation. He is the father of Bo Xilai, the commerce minister, and is thought to have cut political deals to help his son rise up the hierarchy.
A native of Shanxi province in the northwest, Bo joined the Communist Party in 1925, when he was 17. After run- ins with Nationalist police during party organizing activities in the eastern part of the country, he helped the retreating Communists establish a stronghold in Shanxi.
During World War II, Bo set up the Shanxi Suicide Squad, a guerrilla group that fought Japanese troops then occupying China. He also lured a powerful Shanxi-based warlord, Yan Xishan, into the Communist Red Army, boosting its military strength by 200,000 troops.
When the Communists took power in 1949, Bo served as the first finance minister. He held numerous similar posts, including deputy prime minister under Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, until early 1965, when he was condemned as a "rightist" for supporting open trade with Western countries.
During the ensuring Cultural Revolution, he and his family were sent to prison and lived in miserable conditions for nearly 15 years. His wife was beaten to death in custody.
Deng returned him to his old post of deputy prime minister in 1979. Bo helped implement policies that permitted broader trade and investment flows and allowed some entrepreneurial economic activity. He also became one of Deng's top political lieutenants. He was also a lead author of a definitive early party history published in 1993.
Bo supported crackdowns on intellectuals and dissidents in the 1980s and he backed Deng's decision to remove Hu Yaobang from his position as party general secretary in 1987. Bo wrote a lengthy report, called Document No. 3, that accused Hu of favoring "bourgeois liberalization," a code word for Western-style political change.
After Deng ordered troops to open fire on unarmed protesters in and around Tiananmen Square in June, 1989, Bo threw his weight behind the crackdown. He also backed Deng when die-hard Marxists tried to reassert control over economic planning in the aftermath of the shootings. Some party officials says his support for continued market-oriented reforms may have proved essential at a time when Deng's health and prestige were fading.
Bo was thought to have supported President Jiang Zemin in the 1990s. But his focus may have shifted to leveraging his remaining influence to help his son.
, Bo Xilai, rise up the ranks of provincial leaders $B!=(B he served as mayor of Dalian and governor of Liaoning Province before being promoted to Commerce Minister in 2004.
The younger Bo is viewed as a possible candidate for deputy prime minister and perhaps a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee after the 17th Party Congress to be held later this year. But as the "princeling" son of an influential elder he had to overcome opposition within a party that formally frowns on nepotism.