So Much For Predictions About China Politics

"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner

About a month ago I wrote:

Given Bo’s prominence and family background, we should not expect him to be arrested, or for any sudden moves made against him. More likely there is some meaningless title in his future, and business difficulties ahead for his wife and children.


Bo Xilai looks to be fully purged and may spend a long time in Qincheng prison. His wife BoGu Kailai, as she is now known in official media, will be lucky to avoid a mobile execution van for murdering Neil Heywood, and others as well if the rumors are to be believed.

I am going to double down with three more predictions:

1. The Bo affair was cathartic for the preparations for the 18th Party Congress and a boon for Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping in rooting out Bo and neutralizing his allies. The leadership understands that either they hang together or they will hang separately and so we should expect no more public indications of elite turmoil between now and the 18th.

2. A respected fortune teller’s prediction for Xi Jinping has been circulating among certain Beijing circles. In this prediction, Xi in his first term will bring major reform to China, though the version I have heard is fuzzy on whether that means Western-style political reform or a reinvigoration of economic reforms with more intraparty Democracy and transparency. Either way it is a glimmer of hope in an otherwise cynical environment. Whether or not you believe in fortune telling (算命), you should consider that soothsayers’ predictions about Chinese politics are at least as reliable as China pundits’. (Remember all those predictions about Egypt, the Jasmine Revolution and China?)

3. Partisan calls by GOP lawmakers for hearings on the Obama Administration’s refusal to grant asylum to Wang Lijun could prove embarrassing unless those pro-life lawmakers are certain Wang Lijun never oversaw forced abortions in any of his jurisdictions during his long career in the Public Security system. Good luck with that…, an excellent new China group blog, has had some insightful and entertaining coverage of the Bo Affair. I recommend their post Bo knows Hollywood and ask readers for help with nicknames for the protagonists in my own “Chongqing Corleones” script. So far I have Bo “Red” Xilai, Gu “Killer Bee” Kailai, Wang “Ghengis” Lijun and Bo “Melonhead” Guagua.

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3 thoughts on “So Much For Predictions About China Politics

  1. “The leadership understands that either they hang together or they will hang separately “. It’s awfully hard to see a government with 85–95% approval ratings getting hung for the misdeeds of a provincial governor. It’s like saying that the Obama administration is likely to be overthrown becaue of the scandal surrounding Governor Blagojevich.

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