Tuesday, September 25, 2012

China Dentata

The Times reported that Wang Lijun the police chief and former associate of Bo Xilai, the disgraced former Communist party leader, was sentenced to 15 years for “defection, abuse of power, taking bribes and bending the law for personal gain” (“Police Chief in Chinese Murder Scandal Convicted and Sentenced to 15 Years," NYT, 9/23/12). Bo Xilai wife’s Gu Kailai was given a “death sentence with a two-year suspension which means she will probably end up with a long prison term” and the fate of Mr. Bo, once in line to becoming a major figure is still undetermined. The case, involving as it does both the murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood, and an ambitious Chinese politician, epitomizes the seemingly conflicting forces in Chinese society. China suffers from cultural and economic schizophrenia. Its economy is a juggernaut, powered by free market capitalism and private enterprise. Yet it still has a powerful Communist Party which operates in a clandestine manner, taking back freedom as fast as it gives it away. Usually freedom of expression and free market capitalism co-exist, but in Chinese society the two are often at odds. Will we really ever know the real story of what accounted for Bo Xilai’s fall from grace? During the cold war the two Germany’s exemplified warring ideologies. In today’s China, the same conflict exists under one roof. It serves China’s purposes to give the impression of being a dynamic and open society, but the reality is often otherwise. Alison Klayman’s documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, demonstrates how the Chinese government gave the prominent artist just enough rope to strangle himself with. When Ai Weiwei out lived his use and his outspokenness no longer was a source of useful publicity, he was silenced. China has enormous resources, but true freedom is the one thing that money (and the prospect of increasing economic expansion) is still not able to buy.

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