Recent power struggles in China have generated torrents of leaks and rumors. The sources, always obscure, apparently seek to influence the course of the struggles by outing secrets and maligning reputations. In the case detailed in this book, they succeeded. Anonymous e-mails and cell-phone calls alerted a number of reporters, including Ho (an exiled veteran journalist who published the Chinese-language version of The Tiananmen Papers, the English-language version of which I co-edited), to a split between Bo Xilai, the Communist Party boss of Chongqing, and his subordinate, the local police chief. Reporters soon uncovered a cesspool of scandals involving Bo, his wife, and others in high places, which involved the abuse of power, corruption, sexual misbehavior, and, most famously, the murder of a British businessman in a Chongqing hotel. The scandal caused a delay in the power transition from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping last fall, and it still casts a shadow over the Xi administration. Although Ho acknowledges that many details of the tale are unverifiable for now, he has probably gotten the story largely right. The book provides remarkable insight into the vicious culture of court politics in today’s China.
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