Chongqing Daily’s Changes Its Tone, as Bo Xilai Counterattacks

February 15, 2012 Updated: August 14, 2015

Beginning Feb. 13, the local media in Chongqing started carrying positive coverage about Bo Xilai, the local Communist Party chief, after a period of several days in which the media had kept silent about Bo.

Both the period of silence and the more recent positive coverage are believed to be related to the flight of Chongqing’s former police chief and vice mayor, Wang Lijun. The dissident website Boxun has reported that Wang, under investigation by Beijing for corruption, fled Chongqing for the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, fearing Bo would kill him in order to silence him. Wang is now in the hands of Beijing authorities and is said to be eager to reveal information about Bo.

China experts believe that the change in the Chongqing media’s coverage of Bo indicates that he has decided to counterattack. Rather than sit still and wait to be purged, Bo has chosen to fight back against the highest officials at Zhongnanhai, the seat of the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership.

Click this tag to read The Epoch Times’ collection of articles on the Chinese Regime in Crisis. Intra-CCP politics are a challenge to make sense of, even for veteran China watchers. Here we attempt to provide readers with the necessary context to understand the situation.

After Bo’s meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Feb. 11, local media in Chongqing provided limited coverage the next day about the event. There were no photographs of Bo and only a low-key report from Xinhua net containing barely 300 characters in text appeared in the printed media. 

In the Feb. 13 edition of the Chongqing Daily, however, carried group pictures of Bo and Prime Minister Harper. The photo was accompanied by a lengthy report about Bo’s meeting with Prime Minister Harper.

On Feb. 14, Bo’s activities of two days ago were printed on the front page of the Chongqing Daily as headline news. The report said on Feb. 12, Bo XiLai, party secretary of Chongqing, hosted a city’s standing committee meeting to track the city’s progress in reform and to discuss the deployment of subsequent tasks. The report also boasted of Bo’s political achievements in Chongqing.

Jilin satellite TV also broadcast similar reports on the same day. It is interesting to note that Jilin is a province in northeastern China, which is very far away from central-western Chongqing.

Most recently, the Chongqing Daily also included a front page report about Chongqing City Mayor Huang Qifan chairing a regular meeting of the city government, and another report on the second page about Bo’s speech at Chongqing City Propaganda and Culture Working Meeting on Feb. 2 that occurred before the Wang Lijung incident.

In the Wang Lijun incident, Huang led an armed police troop and numerous police vehicles to besiege the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. Observers believe that Huang’s actions have put him at odds with Beijing and he will not be able to bail himself out if Bo steps down from his current position.

U.S. Congressmen Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA) and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen have demanded that the Obama Administration investigate how Wang Lijun’s was handled by the U.S. Consulate. to conduct an immediate investigation about the government’s disposition of how Wang Lijun entered the Chengdu consulate general.

The Washington Free Beacon, quoting a source familiar with Wang’s debriefing at the U.S. Consulate, he provided details about “corruption and links to organized crime by his boss, Bo Xilai, as well as details about Chinese police repression of dissent.”

The political commentator Mr. Cao Changqing believes that there are two alternatives for explaining the changing media coverage in Chongqing.

The first possible scenario is that the situation is bad for Bo. He is scared and used this method to bolster himself to show that he is still in control. Otherwise, there is no need to advertise a regular City Standing Committee meeting.

In the second scenario, maybe he got news from Beijing that in this dogfight between him and Wang Lijun, Zhongnanhai is prepared to sacrifice Wang. Perhaps he was given such assurances and dared to publicize himself again.

However, Cao believes that if the CCP central committee wanted to protect Bo Xilai, then it would have a more influential media outlet to report on Bo Xilai’s Standing Committee meeting than a local media like the Jilin satellite TV. So this second possibility striked Cao as rather uncertain.

The well-known mainland China economist Mao Yushi thought that in any case Bo’s use of the media in this way will not help with the public.

“This must be Bo Xilai taking measures to handle the incident. But knowing the facts, the general public doesn’t watch these things. What the public wants to see is how you will answer the things Wang Lijun revealed. If you don’t mention the substance and just make use of these superficial things, the public will doubt you even more,” Mao said during an interview with The Epoch Times.

Regarding Chongqing media’s bragging about Bo Xilai’s political achievements, especially about the local authorities in Chongqing paying a great attention to people’s livelihood, Mao felt this could not succeed.

Mao believes that Bo Xilai’s “Chongqing Model,” which involves campaigns to sing pro-communist songs and to crack down on mafia, is crooked and also very deceptive. Mao believes there are two ways to improve the people’s livelihood: to produce wealth more effectively or to better allocate the wealth people have generated.

“If you don’t work on these things, giving grass-root people some benefits, this is completely deceptive,” Mao said. “The Communist Party came into power using this method, using these dishonest and deviant methods, and that’s bound to fail.”

Read the original Chinese article.