China's path to reform | Martin Jacques

From Global development | The Guardian Sun Mar 18 2012, 22:00:01

The west presumes there is little discussion and argument in Beijing over policy. This is wrong

Last week's dismissal of Bo Xilai, the party secretary of Chongqing province, casts this autumn's Chinese Communist party congress, with the anticipated replacement of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, in a dramatic new light.

Bo Xilai, son of a former Communist party leader and veteran of the Long March, has been exploiting his office for a thinly veiled campaign for a place on the party's nine-member standing committee that runs China. His fall was triggered when his righthand man in Chongqing, the police chief Wang Lijun, sought refuge in the American consulate in Chengdu, claiming that his life was under threat from Bo.

From that moment, Bo's career was in doubt. The coup de grace was delivered by Wen at a press conference at the annual National People's Congress, when he warned that China risked another "historical tragedy" like the cultural revolution and that the Chongqing party had to "seriously reflect on the Wang Lijun incident". Bo's dismissal followed almost immediately.

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