Leader Development & Education for Sustained Peace Program: Cross-Cultural, Geopolitical & Regional Education

LDESP USPACOM News Update – May 2012

NOTE: This is an excerpt. Click here to see the news update in its entirety.

The PACOM update includes news coverage from Pakistan to the Pacific Islands. As with all LDESP news briefs, the information contained within the PACOM update is to increase situational awareness. The PACOM update focuses on issues concerning South Asia, South East Asia, North East Asia, China, Australia, and the Pacific Islands, including articles central to transpacific security and stability, as well as political and economic issues that may impact the region and U.S national interests in the region.

Disclaimer: Articles are taken from established and diverse professional periodicals, news articles, and editorial commentaries from different countries, reflecting a range of political views/biases, that are intended to provide readers with a better understanding of various interests and perspectives regarding the situation in the region. External links may expire at any time depending on the archiving policy of the particular news agency. News summaries may highlight only a portion of an article that is relevant to the readers and may not necessarily be the focus of the entire article or the headline. Opinions expressed in the articles, commentaries, and featured topics do not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense, the US Navy, or the LDESP staff.

Party Ousts Chinese Regional Chief, Halting His Rise

Bo Xilai, the brash Communist Party chief of China’s sprawling Chongqing municipality, has been removed from his post, an unmistakable sign that recent scandals in that city have put an end to his political ambitions and complicated the national leadership transition that will take place this autumn. The news, announced the morning of 12 April in a brief dispatch by the official Xinhua news agency, said that Vice Prime Minister Zhang Dejiang, a North Korean-educated economist, would replace him as Chongqing party secretary. Xinhua did not mention a new job for Mr. Bo or say whether he would keep his spot on the party’s 25-seat Politburo. Until recently, Mr. Bo had been a prime contender for the all-powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo, a nine-member body that effectively runs the country. Seven members are to be replaced, and Mr. Bo’s demotion suggests there will be more drama in a usually secret process. Tall, charismatic and unusually loquacious for a Chinese official, Mr. Bo, 63, is the son of a revolutionary hero and was well-positioned — thanks to his extensive connections — to ascend the party hierarchy. His prospects clouded in February when a handpicked deputy, Wang Lijun, sought refuge in the United States Consulate in Chengdu, a city in Sichuan Province about 210 miles from Chongqing. Mr. Wang, who had reportedly fallen out with Mr. Bo and, according to an American official, had feared for his safety, spent the night in the consulate before being escorted to Beijing by security officers. (…) For a party obsessed with secrecy and the sheen of stability, the past weeks have been especially roiling. Ding Xueliang, a social scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said Mr. Wang’s visit to the consulate — during which American officials say he revealed damaging information about Mr. Bo — set off a cascade of events that has convulsed the party establishment. “The Wang Lijun incident has changed the rules of the game by drawing international attention to internal politics,” Mr. Ding said. “What the party fears most are abnormal events like this.” (…) The polarization Xilai wrought extended through China’s political core. Supporters included his patron, former President Jiang Zemin, and neo-leftist academics who hailed his wealth-redistribution efforts. (New York Times)

Ousted Chinese Leader is Said to Have Spied on Other Top Officials

When Hu Jintao, China’s top leader, picked up the telephone last August to talk to a senior anticorruption official visiting Chongqing, special devices detected that he was being wiretapped — by local officials in that southwestern metropolis. The discovery of that and other wiretapping led to an official investigation that helped topple Chongqing’s charismatic leader, Bo Xilai, in a political cataclysm that has yet to reach a conclusion. Until now, the downfall of Mr. Bo has been cast largely as a tale of a populist who pursued his own agenda too aggressively for some top leaders in Beijing and was brought down by accusations that his wife had arranged the murder of Neil Heywood, a British consultant, after a business dispute. But the hidden wiretapping, previously alluded to only in internal Communist Party accounts of the scandal, appears to have provided another compelling reason for party leaders to turn on Mr. Bo. The story of how China’s president was monitored also shows the level of mistrust among leaders in the one-party state. To maintain control over society, leaders have embraced enhanced surveillance technology. But some have turned it on one another — repeating patterns of intrigue that go back to the beginnings of Communist rule. “This society has bred mistrust and violence,” said Roderick MacFarquhar, a historian of Communist China’s elite-level machinations over the past half century. “Leaders know you have to watch your back because you never know who will put a knife in it.” The official narrative and much foreign attention has focused on the more easily grasped death of Mr. Heywood in November. When Mr. Bo’s police chief, Wang Lijun, was stripped of his job and feared being implicated in Bo family affairs, he fled to the United States Consulate in Chengdu, where he spoke mostly about Mr. Heywood’s death. The murder account is pivotal to the scandal, providing Mr. Bo’s opponents with an unassailable reason to have him removed. But party insiders say the wiretapping was seen as a direct challenge to central authorities. It revealed to them just how far Mr. Bo, who is now being investigated for serious disciplinary violations, was prepared to go in his efforts to grasp greater power in China. (New York Times)

China Expels Al Jazeera Channel

Al Jazeera, the satellite broadcasting network, was forced by the Chinese authorities to close its China news operations of its English-language channel on 7 May, the first such action in almost 14 years and the strongest sign yet of fraying relations between the ruling Communist Party and the overseas journalists who cover it. The network’s correspondent Melissa Chan was scheduled to leave Beijing by jet on the night of 7 May after the government refused normally routine requests to renew her press credentials or to allow another correspondent to replace her. She declined to be quoted about her departure, and the government’s motive was not explicitly stated. But among other broadcasts, officials were said by some to have been angered by an English-language documentary on Chinese re-education through labor camps that Al Jazeera produced outside China and broadcast on its network in November. The labor camps are often used to punish dissidents and other troublemakers. The documentary called the camps a form of slavery in which millions of prisoners produce goods sold worldwide by major companies. China denies using slave labor in its prisons. (…) The rejection of press credentials for Al Jazeera comes amid rising official sensitivity to foreign news coverage as China’s ascendance — and its increasingly high-profile social and political problems — have become issues of global importance and, in some quarters, criticism. Chinese authorities have privately and sharply criticized Western coverage of the upheaval in the country’s leadership ranks after the ouster of Bo Xilai, the ambitious Politburo member whose wife has been accused of murdering a British acquaintance. (New York Times)


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