Chinese authorities can no longer maintain a front of internal unity after the dismissal of Bo Xilai (薄熙來), which could trigger an eruption of grassroots discontent, Wang Dan (王丹), an exiled leader of the Tiananmen protests in 1989, said yesterday.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia ahead of the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Wang, who now lives in Taiwan, said Bo’s removal from major posts has led him to believe that political change in China would be more dramatic this year than in years past, “allowing for all kinds of possibilities.”
Bo, the former party chief in Chongqing, was removed from his post in mid-March after the municipality’s chief of police, Wang Lijun (王立軍), took refuge at the US consulate in Chengdu in February out of fear of retribution from his boss.
Wang Dan said he believed that the case of Wang Lijun — in which he may have turned over incriminating evidence against Bo before being turned over to authorities in Beijing — and Bo’s dismissal reflect a trend.
“The [Chinese] Communist Party, which has wanted to maintain a facade of internal unity and stability in the past, has lost control and can no longer put on a front this year” when it anoints new leaders, Wang Dan said, calling the development “significant.”
He said that many Chinese are generally dissatisfied with the government, but have not fully vented their discontent because they believe the country’s leaders are united. If such unity is seen as a show, it would encourage an eruption of discontent at the grassroots level.
Wang Dan said that without the Wang Lijun scandal, which happened completely by chance, Bo could have well become a member of China’s core nine-member decisionmaking body, the CCP’s politburo Standing Committee, and even a national leader.
“Are there similar cases within the [Chinese] Communist Party? I bet there are, only they’ve been suppressed. This has shown that uncertainty within China’s leadership is very high,” Wang Dan said.
The exiled activist also said that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s (溫家寶) advocacy of political reform has met with strong opposition within the party, but if Wen were to push the concept, it would carry a certain amount of weight.
In addition, the party congress later this year, which will see China’s first leadership transition in a decade, also has “great possibilities,” he said.