Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cracks in China's leadership unity - Victor Shih

Victor Shih
Is it like the Gang of Four in 1976? Or Tiananmen in 1989? Or the dismissal of Chen Liangyu in 2006? Commentators struggle to find a comparison. The downfall of Bo Xilai certainly shows cracks in the varnish of unity among China's leaders, tells political analyst Victor Shih in the Voice of America.

The Voice of America:
Victor Shih, an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University specializing in Chinese politics, says the case shows cracks in China’s normally varnished image of unity, adding that this all suggests a power struggle behind the scenes. 
“At this point [it’s] not quite behind the scenes, a lot is happening in public,” he said. “There could me more signs of infighting going forward.” 
“This whole episode leading from the attempted defection of Wang Lijun to the U.S. really reveals that there are strong undercurrents in Chinese politics and the façade of unity that the Chinese leadership tries to portray to the world is just a façade,” said Shih... 
Political analysts believe Bo's populist governing style, which featured a return to leftist economic policies of the past, had set him apart from the relatively reform-minded party leaders who are expected to assume power in the coming months. 
“Bo was seen as a very ambitious politician in the sense that he was using various methods to undermine his enemies and to buy alliances with other factios,” said Shih. Shih said it remains to be seen if criminal charges will be brought against Bo and that in the past, when officials have fallen from grace, the party unified around the leadership,  the officials were removed and there really was nothing much more to the story.  
But Shin says this case may be different. “Because of the princeling status [Bo] had and the wide connections he enjoyed, he and his allies may try to fight these indictments and push back somehow. And if that were the case, I think we will see some interesting developments going forward,” Shih said.
More in The Voice of America, including the full interview with Victor Shih.

Victor Shih is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers' request form.
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