Shortly after announcing that former political high-flyer Bo Xilai had been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party and faced criminal prosecution for corruption, China’s state news agency Xinhua published a commentary titled “Whoever tramples on party discipline and national law will be punished severely.”
But Zhang Ming, a political science professor at People’s University in Beijing, said cases like Bo Xilai are widespread and common knowledge in China.
“We all know that the problem comes from the system,” he said, “Why nobody stopped him when he was becoming corrupt? Why nobody checked?”
Bo’s crimes date back more than a decade and involved abuses of power while he was a well-known politician, climbing up the ladder of the party’s top echelons.
Online, where key words related to Bo’s case are still blocked by Chinese authorities, the party’s failure to act was perceived as unwillingness to seriously tackle the party’s internal abuses, despite public rhetoric to the contrary.
“Bo didn’t just fall out of the sky,” according to blogger Zhao Chu. “He climbed up to an eminent position step by step, with his wife, family members, and lackeys doing so many bad things for more than 10 years.”
Zhao said the historical lack of accountability within the party allows corrupt officials like Bo thrive.
“The basic principles of rule of law and contemporary social norms lack in this kind of long established political culture,” Zhao wrote, “This is a reality that cannot be missed while talking about Bo’s case, and that will not fade overnight just with Bo’s downfall.”
Wang Xuming, a well known publisher and former spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Education, called Bo’s high profiel campaigns against crime in Chongqing a farce.
“The prestige and trust of people in the party and in the government is ruined yet again,” he wrote.
Official reports of Bo Xilai’s long-time corruption come as Beijing is preparing to select the group of leaders to rule for the next ten years.
The 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, a once-in-a-decade confab to pick new leadership, will open on November 8.
— With reporting from VOA News.