Anton Goryunov reports from Beijing: Spare a thought for Bo Xilai, former rising star in the Communist Party of China, who is going on trial this week accused of corruption and abuse of power. Just last year he was tipped to join the comrades in the Politburo, setting his sights on the top jobs, but now he is held in custody, awaiting a trial that has a guilty verdict stamped all over it. And considering that Bo’s wife, Gu, received a suspended death sentence earlier this year, for poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood, who helped her move money out of China, the former high flying communist apparatchik is looking at some pretty tough sentence himself. Especially as the current President and Generally Secretary of the Communist Party, Xi Jinping, is no friend of Bo’s and probably wishes that the whole thing winds up quickly and without any damaging info coming out.
The problem with Chinese capitalism is that it is highly politicised and based on people having political connections to achieve success in business. If you take any Chinese billionaire or multi-millionaire, you are bound to stumble on a whole bunch of corrupt politicians and communist party officials, who would be lurking in the background. Because without their help no one can become rich in China.
So on this basis we can safely assume that other top communist dogs in the land have a lot to hide and are probably wishing now that Bo breaks his neck in a fall or eats some poisonous mushrooms, instead of going on trial. Not to mention that communist leaders generally don’t like to see one of their own going on trial, as it reminds them of their own skeletons in their closets. You don’t really need to be Sherlock Homes to figure out that if ‘one of the boys’ is caught getting obscenely rich, then it sort of follows that the others are in it as well. Just like if you look, say, at Bill Clinton or George Bush or Tony Blair or Gordon Brown, who have amassed fortunes when they left office, you can safely conclude that the other lot are no better and are probably looking forward to be rewarded for their treachery in office, once they step down.
China as an emerging capitalist economy is a weird place generally, with about 1 billion people not really enjoying the spoils of economic growth. Communism and the free market don’t really mix well, especially considering that the current model of the free market is based on a tiny minority operating freely, at the expense of the vast majority. Add to this the institutional corruption in China that any communist system ads to the economy and you get a country run by several dozen top communist bosses and their families, who are operating in cahoots with their fixers from the world of business.
So what I’m saying here is that Bo was no different from the rest of the gang, if you pardon the expression. And I bet he feels bitter about the comrades letting him sweat it out on their behalf. Could he spill the beans at the trial? Well, he’s got nothing to lose really, so why not go out with a bang?
Testing times ahead for the comrades at the very top in China. Some of them are probably frantically changing the arrangements on their off shore accounts.