China Leadership Monitor

The Bo Xilai Affair in Central Leadership Politics

Monday, August 6, 2012

From a procedural perspective, the removal of Bo Xilai from Chongqing and from the party Politburo resembles the 2006 purge of Shanghai party boss Chen Liangyu and the 1995 takedown of Beijing City party chief Chen Xitong. Bo’s removal in that respect therefore does not indicate a departure from the “rules of the game” as played in the last two decades. From a political perspective, each of the three purges—of the two Chens and of Bo Xilai—removed an irritant to the top leadership at an important moment of transition. The Politburo leadership has, publicly at least, sustained its usual façade of unity throughout the Bo affair, and Bo’s removal likely strengthens rather than disrupts preparations for convocation of the 18th Party Congress this fall.