April 11th, 2012
09:07 AM ET

Roundup: Scandal spreads over Chinese power couple

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Chinese government has removed Bo Xilai (WSJ), once a rising political star, from his prominent positions in the Politburo and Central Committee, as his wife, Gu Kailai, is subjected to a homicide investigation in connection with the death of British businessman Neil Heywood. Many analysts are describing the events as the biggest scandal to strike Beijing in decades. Mr. Bo was sacked as party leader of the southwestern megalopolis of Chongqing last month. Chinese state news reported that while Ms. Gu was on "good terms" with Mr. Heywood, who served the family as a "trusted advisor," they did have a conflict over "economic interests." British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he welcomed the investigation.

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Analysis

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Jonathan Fenby writes, "the Bo affair is, essentially, a sideshow, a distraction from the essential challenges facing China under its changing leadership. Nobody can deny the country's huge material achievements, and individuals live far better and freer lives than they did under the Great Helmsman. But the economic model is out of date."

On CFR's Asia Unbound blog, Elizabeth C. Economy writes, "The case of Bo represents a marked improvement from traditional Chinese politics by bringing transparency, accountability, and perhaps even the rule of law into the political process. Of course the Party is already trying to use its handling of the scandal as an example of its respect for the 'sanctity and authority of law.' In doing so, however, the Party raises the expectations of the Chinese people that such transparency and accountability will continue."

PACIFIC RIM

China and Philippines in South China Sea Standoff

The Philippines requested China's ambassador in Manila after two Chinese ships prohibited a Philippine navy vessel from arresting Chinese fishermen in the South China Sea (al-Jazeera). The two countries contest sovereignty over some islands in the region.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Quake off Indonesia Prompts Tsunami Watch

An 8.6 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Indonesia has prompted a tsunami watch (WSJ) for much of the region, including India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Pakistan. A 9.1 quake in the same area in 2004 triggered a tsunami (LAT) that killed an estimated 230,000 people.

PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Indian Premier Dr. Manmohan Singh reached a preliminary agreement that would allow traders from both countries to be issued multiple-entry visas (Dawn).

Pakistan's stability is of great consequence to regional and international security. Examine the roots of its challenges, what it means for the region and the world, and explore some plausible futures for the country in this CFR Crisis Guide.

MIDDLE EAST

Annan in Iran to Discuss Syria Peace Deal

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan gained Iranian support for the peace process in Syria (al-Jazeera), but Tehran said that Syria's government must be given time to institute reforms. Annan said he has received assurances from Syria that the cease-fire deadline would be honored.

ISRAEL: Israeli and Lebanese navies have been cooperating in the Mediterranean as Israel prepares for a possible altercation on upcoming Nakba Day this month (Haaretz). As a result, analysts say that significantly fewer foreign vessels approach Israel's maritime border now.

AFRICA

Sudan-South Sudan Border Skirmishes

Sudan reported that South Sudan (AP) launched an attack on the oil-rich town of Heglig twice in the last twenty-four hours, and that border conflicts have broken out in the aftermath. The news raises fears of all-out conflict between the two newly partitioned nations.

NIGERIA: Nigeria's chief of army staff told his troops to consider themselves at war with Boko Haram (Vanguard), the militant Islamic group believed to be responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks that killed scores of people in parts of the country's north.

EUROPE

European Markets Stage Tentative Comeback

Following the worst one-day drop in over a month, European markets recovered some lost ground with Spanish and Italian stocks (FT) leading the way. Italy also managed to sell its target of $17.5 billion government bonds on Wednesday, but its borrowing costs rose sharply, highlighting market nervousness.

The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path of European integration, is a buffeted by a sovereign debt crisis of nations whose membership in the currency union has been poorly policed.

RUSSIA: Russia's president-elect Vladimir Putin announced he would support a motion that prohibits a person from being elected president more than twice (AP). He added that such a law would not affect him, however, since it would not be retroactive.

AMERICAS

Bolivia to Rescind Amazon Road Contract

Bolivian President Evo Morales announced he will cancel the contract of a Brazilian company that was set to build a controversial road through the Amazon rainforest (BBC). Morales accused OAS, the firm in question, of not complying with deal's terms.

MEXICO: Mexican President Felipe Calderon is set to travel to Cuba on Wednesday for a brief trip to improve relations with the communist nation and discuss business possibilities, including oil ventures (Reuters).

CAMPAIGN 2012

Obama Makes Case for Tax Hikes on the Rich

President Barack Obama doubled down on his economic case for a second term, which he explained favors boosting social programs that benefit middle-income Americans, in sharp contrast with Republicans' past and future proposals to spur growth with upper-income tax cuts.

The Senate is set to vote next week (Politico) on a change in tax laws that would set a 30 percent minimum income tax for Americans earning more than $1 million annually, known as the "Buffett Rule," which will be at odds with a House budget plan by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) "that cuts taxes on many Americans, with a particular emphasis on the rich."

With Rick Santorum officially out of the race, Republican front-runner Mitt Romney is expected to shift his campaign into a new gear (WashPost). Romney will have to rally the GOP around him and take on President Obama on the economy, voters' number one issue (Reuters).

Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.

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Topics: China • Daily Roundup

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Rz

    You CFR guys are obviously overpowering for simpletons like me, or the average Joe. Don't get me wrong, but why aren't you running the damn country ?!? I would love to see a study done on a country by country basis as to the overall expense of governments (all levels) on their working population. This would hopefully be a good indicator of countries that have "too much government". From my simple calculations, I figure that 20% to 25% of our workforce goes to supporting government employees. That's way too much. 5 to 10 percent should be ample.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:47 am | Reply
    • Tron San

      .

      中共現在最大的問題是腐敗

      高官愛錢如命 不敢開戰爭取領土

      事實上所做所為跟 [賣國求和] 是完全相同的

      .

      April 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  2. urgent

    Fares Raslan MD

    خبر عاجل وهام جدا جدا ::::::
    تقوم المخابرات العامة في دمشق بأخذ كميات من الدم الفاسد من المشافي الحكومية الى افرع السجون حيث يتم حقن المعتقل بكمية 5 سم من هذا الدم وعلى اثرها يتوفى وفاة طبيعة /يرجى النشر لجمعيات حقوق الانسان/
    By: شبكة اخبار حمص العدية (عاصمة الثورة السورية)
    reliable sources from my collegues syrian doctors in syria .
    the intelligence services in syria are collecting spoiled blood and injecting forcefully prisioners with 5 ml of it to let them die naturally ...please share to human rights watch and all human organizations around the world ....
    also they are sending 50 truks aday since 3 months ago those trucks going to hizboallah south of lebanon , full of weapons , cash, arms, rockets, and some chemical weapons please take a note this is an eye wotness ....why no body is doing any thing to those thugs , war criminal shiia thugs?

    April 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      The world is watching Bashar al-Assad closely, whether he would die peacefully in his bed like his tyrant father Hafez did in 2000.

      April 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    As outsiders, it's hard to decide, which news was more sensational or startling – Bo Xilai's removal from key party posts, or his wife's suspected involvement in the murder of Neil Heywood?

    April 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    Time will tell if Assad really would honour Annan's peace plan and for how long.

    April 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    It's not fair, what Putin intends to do – to prohibit somebody in the future from being elected president more than twice!

    April 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      why?

      April 12, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Reply

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