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2012年10月5日星期五

China’s naked truths reveal emperor’s garb


By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing

The Chinese Communist party would like the world to believe that the forthcoming trial of Bo Xilai will be a triumph of authoritarian self-policing and evidence of its ability to root out a few bad apples.

In fact, the downfall of one of the country’s most senior politicians and the lurid details of murder, sex, money and power that accompanied it have had almost entirely the opposite effect.

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From revelations of massive corruption to the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood by Mr Bo’s wife Gu Kailai, the sordid affair has shown the Chinese people and the world that the rot goes right to the top.

For the last three decades, the party has carefully cultivated the perception that, while there may be corruption and wrongdoing at lower levels, the system is governed by clean and selfless elites who live only to serve the masses.

China’s spectacular rise and its success in lifting hundreds of millions out of abject poverty combined with the intense secrecy surrounding senior officials have convinced many to accept this vision of a just and benevolent emperor calling the shots from Beijing.

A year ago, when citizens in the Chinese village of Wukan rose up in rebellion against corrupt local officials and fought running battles with riot police, they continued to insist on their undying allegiance to the country’s top leadership.

In the many small uprisings that continually bubble up across China, the protagonists almost always believe that if the country’s enlightened leaders only knew about local corruption they would descend like a deus ex machina to administer justice.

One senior retired western diplomat who specialised in China for nearly 30 years recently confided to the FT that the Bo Xilai case had prompted an epiphany when he finally realised the top mandarins were just as tainted as officials at the lower levels.

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A string of revelations about the fortunes amassed by other top leaders has followed in the international press, further undermining the idea that Mr Bo is an anomaly.

While senior officials have faced the wrath of the “socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics” before, none as powerful as Mr Bo have ever stood trial in a modern courtroom.

Not only did he sit on the party’s 25-member ruling Politburo, he is also the son of Bo Yibo, a Communist founding father who was once Mao Zedong’s finance minister.

Apart from helping to cover up Heywood’s murder, Mr Bo faces a long list of charges for crimes he allegedly committed over the last 20 years as commerce minister and as the top official in the Chinese cities of Dalian and Chongqing.

He is alleged to have abused his power, amassed a fortune by accepting “huge bribes”, and to have persistently promoted unqualified cronies while carrying on “improper sexual relations with a number of women”.

The country’s tightly controlled state media has rather plaintively heralded these charges as evidence of the party’s “commitment to rule of law”, “farsightedness” and “superb ability to deal with complicated situations”.

The Party also keeps insisting that Mr Bo’s case shows nobody, no matter how powerful or well-connected, is above the law in China.


When historians look back on the Bo Xilai scandal they will almost certainly identify this as the moment when China’s vicious backroom political battles spilled into the open and the myth of the good emperor was shattered.

Far from revealing authoritarian China’s meritocracy and ability to self-correct, the Bo Xilai saga underscores how its leaders believe they are above the law and how little accountability there actually is.

The fact is that Mr Bo’s alleged crimes only came to light after his disgruntled chief of police, Wang Lijun, attempted to defect to a US consulate in February carrying a dossier of damaging revelations and proof that Gu had murdered Heywood.

Chinese, British and US officials say privately that without the involvement of foreign governments Heywood’s murder would probably never have been uncovered and Mr Bo would still be a frontrunner for promotion when the party anoints new leaders at a once-a-decade conclave next month.

As the party tries to pull off an orderly and smooth transition, many are now questioning why Bo was allowed to get away with that long list of alleged crimes for so long.

They are also starting to ask how different Mr Bo really is from the other unelected men who run China.

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《金融时报》(Financial Times)10月4日(周四)刊登了Jamil Anderlini的文章,标题为:北京赤裸裸的真相揭开了皇帝的新衣(China’s naked truths reveal emperor’s garb)。以下是译文:


中国共产党希望世界相信,在即将到来的对薄熙来的审判将是专制自我监管的胜利,及证明其有能力铲除几个坏苹果。


事实上,一个国家最高层政治人物的垮台,及其可怕的谋杀、性、金钱和权力的内幕,伴随而来的是几乎完全相反的效果。

从揭露大量的腐败,到薄熙来的妻子谷开来谋杀英国商人尼尔·海伍德,这些龌龊的事情向中国及全世界人民表明,中共的腐烂已直达顶层。

在过去的三十年中,党在精心栽培这种看法:虽然可能在低层官员中存在腐败和不法行为,该系统还是被廉洁无私的精英们所控制,他们在为人民服务。

中国的迅速崛起,成功的让数亿的赤贫人口脱困,混杂着围绕高级官员的高度保密,这说服了很多人去接受一种看法,即北京的发号施令是“公正”“仁慈”的。

一年前,当中国的乌坎村村民奋起反抗腐败的地方官员,与防暴警察发生争斗时,他们继续坚持对国家最高领导层的鼎力效忠。



在全中国,众多的小型起义不断冒泡,那些主角们几乎总是认为,如果国家开明的领导人知道了当地的腐败,他们就会从天而降一样来主持正义。



一名退休的高级西方外交官,他专门从事中国问题近30年,最近私下对《金融时报》表示,薄熙来案让他终于意识到那些顶层的橘子与低层的官员一样那么坏。



国际新闻界一连串报出其他高层领导人聚敛的财富,进一步削弱了薄熙来只是他们当中一个异数的想法。



薄熙来不仅是这个党的25名中央政治局成员之一,他是薄一波的儿子。薄一波是中共的开国元勋,曾担任毛泽东的财政部长。



除了被指控帮助掩盖谋杀海伍德的罪行,薄熙来还有一份长长的指控清单,他被指控在过去出任商务部长和大连及重庆最顶层官员犯下的罪行。



他被指控滥用职权、收受“巨额贿赂”、敛财,并与一些妇女有不正当的性关系。


受严格控制的官方媒体悲哀地表示这些指控显示出党的“法治承诺”、“远见”及“高超处理复杂情况的能力”。



党也一直坚持认为,薄熙来案表明:任何人,无论多么强大或关系广阔,都不能凌驾在中国的法律之上。



当历史学者们回顾薄熙来的丑闻,他们几乎肯定会确定那一刻,北京的恶性幕后政治斗争被撒溅出来,那个公开展示的好皇帝的神话被打碎了。



远远不止揭开那些专制的精英们及其自我纠正能力,薄熙来事件凸显了那些领导人是如何相信他们自己能凌驾在法律之上,及他们实际几乎不负担任何责任。



事实上,薄熙来只是在对其不满的首席警察王立军2月份带着谷开来谋杀海伍德的证据逃到美国领事馆后,他被指控的罪行才被揭发出来。



中国、英国和美国的官员们私下说,如果没有外国政府的卷入,海伍德的谋杀案可能永远不会被发现,而薄熙来仍将是下个月十八大晋升的领跑者。



现在很多人都质疑,为什么会允许薄熙来在这么长时间内,涉嫌犯下那么一个长长的清单罪行。

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