by Shan Renping
The case of Bo Xilai shows that officials should not overestimate their personal influence in China, or they will have the illusion of being above Party discipline and the law. If those who study China do not perceive this, they will misinterpret the country.
As a former member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee as well as the former Secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee, Bo was in a high position with extensive power. As such a high- level official is being investigated, therewill undoubtedly be a blow to the region and authorities under his previous leadership.
But the impact will only be temporary. Personal influence and high rank will not shield wayward officials from punishment. A few high-level officials apparently misjudged and gambled on this fact.
With the development of new media, especially the Internet, some within the Party think that their fall would be unbearable to the public. They overestimate their personal influence. China has investigated and punished many corrupt officials. Some of these cases have drawn great attention but China has not changed.
Some in the West imagined a struggle between different political factions in China after Bo’s case, and some Chinese believed it. But they overestimate Bo’s personal influence.
Reform and opening-up has long been established as a basic national policy of China and the Party is working resolutely for the construction of a socialist country with Chinese characteristics. Bo does not have the ability to change China’s political landscape. His influence in Chongqing is regional and cannot expand to the whole country.
There is only one way for high-level officials to realize personal ambitions and influence the development of the country positively, namely to promote the implementation of the Party’s lines. Some hold that Chongqing’s revolutionary song campaign and crackdown on organized crime was part of political in-fighting. They confused local practices with national policies.
The central government has the absolute authority to judge local practices, while local governments are unable to upgrade their local actions to the national stage. There is no political in-fighting.
There were such controversies of ideological fighting during China’s revolutionary period, but these ended when the country embraced reform. The general direction of China is decided based on historical lessons and global patterns. No internal affairs can challenge this direction.
Personal influences cannot penetrate Party discipline and State laws. Highlighting a struggle between political factions may stir up public opinion on Bo’s case, but cannot affect all of China. With further investigation, the Chinese public will get to understand this case fully.