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Can China Push Bo Out Of The Picture?

posted 8 Aug 2013, 05:13 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 8 Aug 2013, 05:14 ]
Reuters Business Report - Operation erase Bo Xilai.

This museum exhibit showcasing the former Communist Party rising star's achievements - gone.

No more of his favorite female mounted police, please.

And scrap the singing of his trademark red songs.

China's Communist Party propaganda machine is at it again, editing history and erasing fallen party leaders.

Bo's fortunes plummeted last year after his police chief sought refuge at a U.S. consulate and accused Bo's wife of murdering a British businessman.

The former Chongqing party chief was charged last month with corruption, and abuse of power.

His trial, arguably the biggest in four decades, is expected soon.

But you wouldn't know it from reading the paper or watching social media here.

International media have been following every twist and turn of the case, looking into everything from Bo's alleged opulent overseas properties to his son's reported acceptance to Columbia University law school.

But the mainstream press here has been oddly silent.

Even news of Bo's indictment received the bottom corner treatment in the officialPeople's Daily.

So can authorities really delete Bo's legacy?

Doug Young, journalism professor at Fudan University, has written a book aboutChina's state media.


"I think in the past, maybe the government would have tried to expunge him from history. That's happened certainly before with leaders. But in the past China was a very closed society and the media were all very tightly controlled by China. It would be impossible to try and erase a person from history like that anymore. So whatChina tries to do now, is they, on these kinds of sensitive stories they really try to control the story."


"Bo Xilai's name isn't banned on Social media site Weibo. And some posts calling for a fair trial for him still turn up. But it's not in the hot topic list. Now, according to Free Weibo - a site based out of Hong Kong which shows all blocked content - "Bo Xilai" ranked in the top three trending topics. Hmm, Free Weibo isn't working. But when it was working earlier today, Bo was a hot topic."

So while shaping the news is one thing - in the Internet age it's a lot tougher to make the past disappear.

On the Chongqing government's English website, even the People's Daily, you can still find articles praising Bo's accomplishments.

Another sign the high-profile politician hasn't yet been forgotten.