Placeholder on Bo Xilai


A number of people have written in to ask why I haven't put up anything extensive, or at all, on the roiling controversy surrounding former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, his wife (and now murder suspect) Gu Kailai, the British businessman and apparent murder victim Neil Heywood, Bo's former police chief and "anti-corruption" ally Wang Lijun, and the rest of the cast in the drama unfolding minute by minute in Chongqing, Beijing, and elsewhere.

Is it because I consider it unimportant? Obviously on the contrary. This is the biggest political drama in China at least since the Tiananmen crackdowns of 1989, with ramifications no one can confidently predict. It's precisely because it's so important that I have not wanted to say anything until I knew something worth saying. For the moment, here is an Atlantic Wire item with leads to other stories. I will try to do a more comprehensive roundup soon, since so much good work is being done by so many analysts inside and outside China.
Language note -- English language, that is:

A few minutes ago, in a conversation with Guy Raz on Weekend All Things Considered, I mentioned the support -- and opposition -- Bo had attracted, before his downfall, with his "Red revival" campaigns. The words came out of my mouth as "his populist-slash-Maoist efforts in the province of Chongqing."

Before anyone writes in, I do of course realize that Chongqing is not really a province (like Sichuan, Hebei, and so on). The city and surrounding area have since 1997 been classified as an unusual more-than-a-city, less-than-a-province entity known as a "municipality." This hybrid status is why Chongqing is so often (mistakenly) referred to, from outside, as the "biggest city in China." It isn't -- Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and others are bigger than Chongqing city itself. But the whole Chongqing municipality has more people than those other places considered strictly as cities.

The word I intended was "environs," but hey that is the difference between broadcasting and typing.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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