In China, in a year that has seen an upsurge of reality television shows such as Stars in Danger, Celebrity Splash, I Am A Singer and Superstar China made by television channels across Chinas provinces, comes the biggest reality show of them allthe ongoing trial of disgraced Chinese Communist Party leader, Bo Xilai, in the northern city of Jinan (Shandong province) for embezzling public funds. The so-called corruption trial is actually a political trial, exceptional in the sense that it is a reality show, edited by the Partybut one with a script that has twists and turns, including the sensational revelation of a love triangle on the last day of the trial.
Sinologist Joseph Fewsmith once noted, relevant in the immediate context, that Politics is always in season in China, but the years in which China convenes its quinquennial party congresses are even more political. As if writ in stone, Bo fell from grace in 2012coinciding with the fifth generation leadership transition and the 18th Party Congress (held every five years) in November 2012.
But how credible is the case?
There are intriguing bits in the case that has captured public imagination. Bos once-upon-a-time close confidante Wang Lijun (his police chief in Chongqing) turned against him and sought political asylum at the United States consulate in Chengdu in 2012. Before anybody knew, Bo was asked to step down, and his wife placed in custody.
It has been reported that Bo fainted 27 times during his brutal interrogation in the past year. Bos wife, Gu Kailai, is known to be of fragile physical and mental health. According to rumours, she suffered heavy-metal poisoning in 2006. Recently, Gu testified against Bo, but critics question its veracitypossibly pressure or plea bargaining? Gu has been convicted of having British businessman Neil Heywood killed. Heywood was allegedly a middleman who brokered money-laundering deals for the family.
In court, Bo has spiritedly dismissed Gus testimony as laughable, and ex-confidante Wang Lijuns testimony as to have him as a key witness means that the law loses credibility. Xu Ming, an entrepreneur who allegedly pumped money to Bos family, footing bills for the familys expensive vacations, and a villa at Cannes, is also a key witness. Xu Ming is also a common factor between ex-premier Wen Jiabao and Bo. It is a well-known fact that Wen and Bo are sworn enemies; according to a recent New York Times report, not only has