Caixin OnlineOpinionEditorial The Dark Heart of the Bo Xilai Case
10.10.2012 16:47

The Dark Heart of the Bo Xilai Case

Scandal must serve as reminder that politicians will manipulate public discontent for their own gain, all the while impeding reform

It's clear today that Bo managed to build a large and complex web of vested interests over the years, from Dalian to Chongqing, with himself at the center and in full control. He treated his subordinates like servants, to be humiliated at will. He treated the people like fools, to be pandered to and manipulated for their gratitude and loyalty.

In other words, Bo was just the opposite of the good and righteous leader he pretended to be. He and his family thought themselves above the law. Stripped bare, we see the dark, feudal heart of this 21st century case.

Bo's failings reflected the political, economic and social realities of a modernizing China. As the country struggles to transform itself, not only do we see large loopholes in the system of checks and balances for top leaders, but the foundations of China's socialist market economy and the rule of law are still weak. It was the perfect environment for exploitation by someone with Bo's ambition, arrogance and greed. And exploit he did.

The slap Bo gave Wang was said to have been the spark that led to the exposure of their crimes. But, even if that didn't happen, Bo's downfall would have been a matter of time. 

The fallout from Bo's case is serious. With the start of the trial, more details will be made known to the public. For now, it should serve as a warning that China must beware of careerist politicians making use of people's discontent for their own gain, undermining reform efforts and the rule of law in the process. They will lead China to its ruin.

Bo taught us all a painful lesson. Thirty years of reform and opening up has brought China tremendous success, but also created many problems in society. Its people are desperate for solutions. Chinese leaders should heed the call for change and deepen their reform efforts.
Their priority now is to continue fighting corruption and speed up the reform of the economic and political systems, particularly the legal system. "All people are equal before the law" must be more than a slogan, and the system of checks and balances strengthened.

Bo showed us that going backwards or standing still are not options for China; only by striking out can it thrive.


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