What to Read on the Chongqing Chaos

By James Fallows

(Please see update below.) So much has happened over the past month in highest-level Chinese politics, and has happened so turbulently and so non-"transparently," that it has been very hard to know which wild speculations might actually be true, and which will turn out merely to be wild speculation. So I have not presumed to offer any "interpretation" of my own.

web-bo-xilai-02_1376130cl-8.jpgWhat I can say is that I've found one account I think anyone interested in the drama should read. It's a long-but-fascinating article by the Australian journalist John Garnaut, on the Foreign Policy site. I could try to summarize it, but instead I'll just say: if you'd like to get your bearings for understanding news about Bo Xilai (right, the fast-rising and recently cashiered party boss of Chongqing, whom Evan Osnos of the New Yorker called China's counterpart to Huey Long); Wang Lijun (his longtime police-chief ally, who apparently sought asylum at a U.S. consulate); and even Neil Heywood (the British businessman who has ended up dead in China), then this is the article for you. Detailed, historically informative, personally rich, and convincing, based on what we know so far. Even has a wacky but seemingly authentic photo of the current strongmen of China, Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, as young staffers 25 years ago.

Update: Inexplicably -- or because there is now so much on our site -- I had missed our own Damien Ma's excellent piece on this topic, with even more dramatic pictures.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/what-to-read-on-the-chongqing-chaos/255258/