Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Was there an attempted coup in China?

Foreign Policy seems to think it's a possibility:
Last week, controversial politician Bo Xilai, whose relatively open campaigning for a seat on China's top ruling council shocked China watchers (and possibly his elite peers, as well), was removed from his post as Chongqing's party secretary. He hasn't been seen since. Rumors of a coup, possibly coordinated by Bo's apparent ally Zhou Yongkang, are in the air.
Western media has extensively covered the political turmoil: Bloomberg reported on how coup rumors helped spark a jump in credit-default swaps for Chinese government bonds; the Wall Street Journal opinion page called Chinese leadership transitions an "invitation, sooner or later, for tanks in the streets." The Financial Times saw the removal of Bo, combined with Premier Wen Jiabao's strident remarks at a press conference hours before Bo's removal as a sign the party was moving to liberalize its stance on the Tiananmen square protests of 1989. That Bo staged a coup is extremely unlikely, but until more information comes to light, we can only speculate on what happened.

Reading official Chinese media response about Bo makes it easy to forget how much Chinese care about politics. The one sentence mention in Xinhua, China's official news agency, merely says that Bo is gone and another official, Zhang Dejiang, is replacing him.  But the Chinese-language Internet is aflame with debate over what happened to Bo and what it means for Chinese political stability.


What we do know, as one message that bounced around Sina Weibo said, is that "something big happened in Beijing."
Read the whole thing. Most interesting to me is the part about a suspiciously censored Ferrari crash, on which the BBC has more.
Information about a Ferrari car crash that killed a man in China, as well as the word "Ferrari", appear to have been deleted from websites, state media report.
The incident happened on Sunday in Beijing's Haidian district, says the Beijing Evening News paper. Reports say two female passengers were injured.
The apparent censorship has raised questions about the driver's identity.
It comes after new rules for Beijing microbloggers took effect on Friday.
Based on photos posted online, the black car was "ripped in half", with "the engine in flames", the Global Times newspaper says.
The newspaper also quoted an official as saying that one of the female passengers sustained "a head injury and a fractured leg", but no information about the other passenger was provided.
Searches about the accident and the word "Ferrari" were deleted from Chinese microblog sites like Sina Weibo and web portals, media report.
"Ferrari crash information hushed up," read the Global Times headline.
"Almost all online information'' about the crash had been "deleted overnight, triggering suspicions as to the identity of the deceased driver," the paper went on to say.
It said Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, "deleted all microblog posts which mentioned the accident, and blocked online searches of the word 'Ferrari'". News reports about the crash were deleted from many other web portals, the paper said.
If there was an attempted coup, I don't have enough information to determine for whom we should root. Until I do, I'm treating it the way I treat a Big Ten game between Michigan and Wisconsin: I want them both to lose.

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