China's leftists dig in for fight over Bo Xilai
By Chris Buckley
BEIJING (Reuters) - Leftist supporters of China's toppled politician Bo Xilai are digging in for an unusually defiant defense of their hero, arguing that he and his wife are victims of a plot that has opened a dangerous schism between them and the Communist Party.
A Chinese court handed Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, a suspended death sentence on Monday after finding her guilty of murdering a British businessman, Neil Heywood.
But no amount of propaganda about Gu's misdeeds appears likely to persuade Bo's supporters that the case was anything but a conspiracy to derail him and discredit his mix of populist economic pledges and Mao Zedong-inspired socialist revivalism.
The party's far-leftists have openly accused top leaders of plotting to oust Bo, and even circulated by email and online an extraordinary petition calling for the impeachment of Premier Wen Jiabao. Its reported signatories included two retired senior officials, although this could not be independently confirmed.
"At least for now, I believe there are too many doubtful points about the case," said Han Deqiang, an academic in Beijing, who has been one of ardent defenders of Bo's policies in Chongqing, the southwestern city that Bo made into a display case of populist policies and traditional socialist culture.
"I believe that this whole incident was intended to eradicate Bo Xilai's Chongqing model," said Han, who teaches at the Beihang University school of business management. "They have destroyed a ray of hope for the Chinese Communist Party."
Bo has been held at an unknown location away from the public since he was ousted in March, accused of unspecified violations of party discipline, possibly including corruption and abuse of power. There has been no official word on how the party leadership will handle those accusations and whether he will face trial. But Bo's political career, at least, seems over.
The uproar over Bo shows that, as the Communist Party weaves between market reforms and state controls, it faces dissent not only from liberals, but also from fervent leftists who see the party as enslaved by capitalist interests. Continued...