The storm over the blind activist Chen Guangcheng has understandably captured the world's attention in the past week. But an event of much greater significance remains the ouster of Bo Xilai, the powerful party boss of Chongqing. The rise and fall of Bo is part of a much larger and potentially disruptive trend in China–the return of politics to the Chinese Communist Party.
We don't much think of the party as a political organization these days. It is dominated by technocrats obsessed with economic and engineering challenges. These men–and they are almost all men–are comfortable talking about detailed economic and technical data, but they are not skilled politicians, adept at handling large crowds or palace intrigue. This apolitical system is a recent phenomenon and the outcome of a conscious decision by the founder of modern China, Deng Xiaoping.