Date of this Version
2012 April 17 in The China Beat http://www.thechinabeat.org/
It was just like old times—in many of China’s major newspapers, a prominently displayed half-page story headlined: “Officials and citizens all across the country express unwavering support for central party leadership’s decision.” It followed hot on the heels of the previous day’s People’s Daily headline: “Resolutely support the party’s correct decision,” which appeared on many front pages. In the wake of the stunning news that Bo Xilai, one of China’s most prominent politicians, had been suspended from the ruling Politburo, and his wife arrested on suspicion of being involved in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, the Chinese Communist Party was in full damage limitation mode. And as so often in a time of crisis, it reverted to tried and trusted methods—in this case wheeling out headlines and slogans straight out of the Mao-era propaganda lexicon. Even the well-known liberal Guangzhou newspaper the Southern Weekend had obviously been ordered to fill its front page with them—though it did manage to squeeze in a recent quote from Premier Wen Jiabao calling for continuing reforms. And by the end of the week, state media had begun pushing other default buttons, with an editorial in the often nationalistic Global Times newspaper accusing the western media of trying to use the affair to split the Communist Party.