Monday, August 26, 2013

Bo Xilai trial nods to China's nascent civil society

Former Chinese politician Bo Xilai speaks in a court room at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan.
Bo Xilai, former Chongqing C.P. chief addresses the court
Bo Xilai trial nods to China's nascent civil society:
by John Garnaut - Sydney Morning Herald
China's nascent civil society network, now woven together by microblog, did not build a credible legal system but they did raise the political cost of committing grotesque judicial abuses. Eventually, the pressure they created by exposing Bo's methods in Chongqing forced open cracks in the political elite. Bo's court room persecutions of his rivals were so perverse and so public — despite his prodigious propaganda efforts - that enemies sharpened their hatchets and allies found it harder to defend him. Indirectly, I argue in The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo, this is what brought Bo crashing down.

Since then, the trials of Bo's police chief Wang Lijun and wife Gu Kailai were judged to be so unprofessional and opaque — by the new and higher standards of Chinese civil society — that basic things that probably were true became make-believe. Even the most fundamental facts were seriously questioned, including whether the lady in court was actually a body double for Gu Kailai.
And this may well be why President Xi Jinping has taken the unprecedented step of posting regular (if incomplete) transcripts of proceedings on social media and giving his charismatic and capable rival the right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses. In China's increasingly fragmented elite, Xi could not afford the prosecution of his rival to be seen as farce.

I initially thought the transparency had back-fired, as Bo dented the credibility of key prosecution witnesses. Now, in the fifth day, it seems that the core elements of the most of the prosecution's allegations against him remain intact.
Read more: 'via Blog this'

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