Placeholder on Bo Xilai

By James Fallows

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/04/placeholder-on-bo-xilai/255902/