Bo Xilai has a reason to smile despite his incarceration.
The disgraced Chinese politician, who was sentenced to life last month on charges of corruption and abuse of power, is now chairman of a new political party. His supporters say they have formed the Zhi Xian Party (Supremacy of the constitution) to act as a pressure valve within the system and help fight for the rights of citizens. Wang Zheng, a university professor who founded the party, is treading a cautious path, saying it is not meant to undermine the authority of the one-party system in the country, but to act as an interest group for upholding the constitution.
The doctrine and intentions of the new-founded group, nonetheless, are debatable. The fact that Bo has been named its chairman even though he fell from grace with the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) making an exemplary case of him is certain to be a thorn in the party’s flesh.
Despite Wang’s claim that the new organization is meant to defend the constitution, it could be an oblique retaliatory tactic to caution the CPC against penalizing Bo further.
The new party could be a gentle reminder that the skeletons in Bo’s cupboard could start rattling if he is leant on too heavily. It is not unlikely that at some point the new party will question the modus operandi of the government, which is already facing allegations of corruption, nepotism and malfunctioning.
On the other hand, the powers that be in Beijing are likely to come down hard on Bo’s fledgling party if it shows signs of seriously challenging the CPC, just as they did in 1998, when Qin Yongmin, a human rights activist with a better non-political image than Bo, was jailed for 12 years for trying to register the China Democracy Party.
While the two sides play their little game, the Zhi Xian Party has made its point. Bo might be down but is still not out of the ring.
The Khaleej Times
Dubai, United Arab Emirates