Since former Politburo member Bo Xilai was removed from his Party posts on March 15, 2012, his case has seemed stuck, as rumors have swirled about behind-the-scenes factional battles fought over his fate. According to news obtained exclusively by New Epoch Weekly, a sister publication to The Epoch Times, new Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping has decided that Bo will be tried for attempting to seize power, and this political trial will be used by Xi to settle scores with foes within the Party.
A source close to the General Office of the CCP Central Committee told New Epoch Weekly, “Problems uncovered in Bo’s case have shocked former President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Xi Jinping and [current premier] Li Keqiang.”
The source told the magazine that the central authorities have obtained a lot of evidence that shows Bo really did plan to take power from the Party leadership.
This evidence involves not only high-ranking CCP officials, but also some senior figures within the military and the Ministry of Public Security. A large number of people from business and media are also implicated, the source says.
The source says that Bo’s case has been decided, but because of the difficulties it raises, the case may drag on for some time.
The trial of the Gang of Four at the conclusion of the Cultural Revolution—the only precedent for a political trial of top Party officials—was pointed to by the source as relevant. That trial featured what the source called a “life and death struggle.”
A trial of Bo Xilai on political charges will likely threaten the loyalty of Party members, the source said. With Xi Jinping’s own position not yet solid, some time would be needed to prepare for the eventual trial, the source said. The trial is now expected to take place the latter half of this year, possibly in October, the source said.
The political commentator Xing Tianxing told NTD Television that the confidential information reported by New Epoch Weekly shows that Xi needs to stabilize and consolidate his power. Xi can then leverage Bo’s case to gain an upper hand in the Party’s internal power struggle.
Xi Jinping faces the opposition of the faction of Jiang Zemin—Bo Xilai had once been that faction’s hope for retaining dominance in the Party. Since Jiang’s faction retains strength at all levels of the Party hierarchy, Xi must try hard to gain power in the internal struggle, Xing Tianxing said. This may delay bringing Bo’s case to trial.
“This way helps Xi to find the best balance so that he can gain the most in the Party’s power struggle, and at same time to minimize the internal aftershock of Bo’s case within CCP,” Xing said.
“Bo’s case has another characteristic: it involves many forces behind the scenes and people in Jiang’s faction, the armed forces, the security forces, and the media. It’s the most difficult case to deal with since the ‘Gang of Four.’ It affects the CCP’s survival.”
Wu Fan, an independent political commentator based in the United States, listed for NTD Television the essential questions facing Xi Jinping.
“I think the critical issue is whether he can control the military. He doesn’t have to control it all but at least the majority of it. Next, can he control the armed police? The armed police have more than 1 million officers, and adding military soldiers the combined forces will be about 3 million.
“Furthermore, after the two meetings [the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress, which finished meeting on March 17], did Xi remove all members of Jiang and Zhou’s factions and Bo’s group at the provincial level?“ Zhou Yongkang is a long time ally of Jiang Zemin, who retired in November 2012 as head of the domestic security apparatus. “In my view, these questions are on the priority list before Xi deals with Bo’s case.”
The New Epoch Weekly’s source said the rumor about Bo being on a hunger strike is not true. Bo has agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for protecting his son, Bo Guagua, and there has been relatively smooth progress in the investigation. It is estimated the investigation can be formally closed in March or April.
However Xing Tianxing looks at the course of previous power struggles in the CCP and believes unexpected events may happen.
“Judging from what has happened previously, many unexpected things happened beyond the wishes of some within the CCP,” Xing told NTD Television. “So there is still the possibility that Bo’s trial does not take place in the second half of this year as planned.”
Translated by John Wang. Written in English by Stephen Gregory.