April 26th, 2012
10:56 AM ET

Roundup: Bo Xilai spied on top Chinese officials

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

Ousted Chinese Communist Party official Bo Xilai wiretapped the phone conversations of senior Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao, the New York Times reported. When officials discovered the wiretapping, conducted by local allies of Bo in the city of Chongqing, an investigation was launched that ultimately led to Bo's downfall. Bo was removed from power last month amid allegations that his wife orchestrated the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

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Analysis

"He drew an enormous amount of attention to himself in a leadership that appears to pride itself on being colorless and faceless. His policies, and even more so his policy approach, which had elements of Maoist revivalism in mass campaigns and 'red songs,' were also nothing like the overall policy approach pursued by other leaders," said CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy in this CFR Interview.

"But he was too carelessly open about his willingness to use the brutal, secretive tactics of his criminal targets to accomplish his goals. Bo's crackdown–which led to thousands of questionably legal arrests, dozens of high-profile, lurid show-trials, and executions of gangsters, lawyers, and public officials–was clearly designed to draw attention to himself," writes Matthew Fishbane on ForeignPolicy.com.

And yet Bo Xilai's most vexing legacy for the Party may be not that he was hated but, rather, that he was loved. His élite peers came to despise him for his Western-style grandstanding, his family's indiscretion, and his homage to the Cultural Revolution. But disenfranchised citizens hearkened to his rhetoric on behalf of the poor and to his investments in public housing. His exposure threatened the Party's legitimacy," writes the New Yorker's Evan Osnos.

PACIFIC RIM

Charges Taiwanese Nationals in Arms Plot

U.S. prosecutors charged two Taiwanese nationals in Newark, New Jersey, with attempting to export U.S. military technology to the Chinese government (BBC), more than a year after U.S. authorities launched an undercover investigation into the pair's suspected drug trafficking activities.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Pakistani PM Found Guilty of Contempt

Pakistan's Supreme Court convicted Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani of contempt of court for refusing to heed the court's demands to reopen a corruption case targeting President Asif Ali Zardari (ExpressTribune). The court sentenced Gilani to a symbolic detention, but did not sentence him to jail.

PAKISTAN: The United States failed to listen to Islamabad's demands to halt drone strikes inside Pakistan, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told Reuters, ahead of a trilateral meeting between senior U.S., Pakistani, and Afghan officials this weekend.

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 with this CFR Crisis Guide.

MIDDLE EAST

Deadly Blast in Central Syrian City

Syrian security forces fired a rocket at a building in Hama yesterday, killing up to sixty-nine people (al-Jazeera), the opposition Local Coordination Committees said. However, Syrian state news reported the explosion was caused by anti-government bomb makers.

YEMEN: The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has provided the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon with a wider latitude of authority to carry out drone strikes (NYT) in Yemen against suspected terrorists, a senior administration official confirmed Wednesday.

Targeted killings have become a central component of U.S. counterterrorism operations around the globe. Despite pointed criticism over transparency and accountability issues, analysts say the controversial practice seems likely to expand in the future, explains this CFR Backgrounder.

AFRICA

War Crimes Tribunal Hands Down Taylor Ruling

The Special Court for Sierra Leone at the Hague found former Liberian president Charles Taylor guilty of arming rebels in Sierra Leone's civil war (Telegraph) between 1996 and 2002, but acquitted him of criminal responsibility and "joint enterprise."

SOUTH SUDAN: The South Sudanese army handed over Sudanese prisoners of war (Reuters) captured during battles over the disputed Heglig oil field to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The move apparently abated rising tensions between the two neighbors, which have threatened to erupt into a full-scale war along their oil-rich border.

CFR's John Campbell discusses the latest reports on the situation between Sudan and South Sudan on his blog, Africa in Transition.

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EUROPE

ECB's Draghi Calls for 'Growth Pact'

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi called for a eurozone "growth pact" to be implemented alongside the strict austerity measures that many member states are pursuing, including structural reforms to revamp rigid labor markets (WSJ).

BELGIUM: Muslims have a more difficult time finding employment in many European countries, according to a new report by Amnesty International that studied discrimination against Muslims (DeutscheWelle) in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland.

AMERICAS

Mexico to Investigate Wal-Mart Permits

The Mexican government reversed course Monday and said it would investigate allegations that Wal-Mart de Mexico had paid millions of dollars in bribes (NYT) to officials for permits to open new stores.

ARGENTINA: The Argentine Senate approved a plan (AFP) put forward by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to nationalize oil company YPF, which is majority-owned by Spanish energy company Repsol, despite EU and U.S. objections. The bill was sent to the lower house, which is expected to approve it next week.

CAMPAIGN 2012

Biden to Defend Obama Foreign Policy

Vice President Joe Biden is expected to make a broad defense of President Barack Obama's national security policy. At the same time, he is making negative links between the foreign policy of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney (AP) and that of former President George W. Bush. Romney's foreign policy advisers have in turn been criticizing Obama's approach to multilateralism.

Though some U.S. economic indicators are picking up, voters' financial comfort has hit an all-time low, and the loss of comfort seems to be much more acute for non-college graduates and Republicans, according to a Gallup poll.

After weeks of continuing to push for less reliance on foreign oil but facing waning attention from voters and the media, Newt Gingrich may be leaving the race for the GOP presidential nomination, says the New York Times.

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

To receive daily updates in your inbox sign up for CFR.org's Daily News Brief.

Topics: China • Daily Roundup

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    There are rumours that the murdered Englishman in Chongqing last November, who brought Bo Xilai down could have spied on behalf on the British MI 6. The UK foreign secretary William Hauge has denied the claim that Neil Heywood was in any capacity an employee of the British government.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    The courtroom drama in Islamabad was a farce. Gilani should have been impeached. This symbolic detention of just a few minutes in court was a joke.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Perhaps Chancellor Angela Merkel and French presidential candidate Francois Hollande do find something in common: both echoed that Europe needs more economic growth. Difficult!! Hollande rejects austerity measures and embraces more government spending. Merkel thinks the other way round.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  4. mikenackecommunications.com/

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    June 10, 2012 at 3:22 am | Reply

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