May 4th, 2012
01:29 PM ET

Bo scandal shows politics re-emerging in China's Communist Party

By Fareed Zakaria

The rise and fall of Bo Xilai is part of a much larger and potentially disruptive trend in China — the return of politics to the Chinese Communist Party.

We don't think of the Chinese Communist 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, laying out master plans for development. But they are not politicians, adept at handling large crowds or palace intrigue.

Read more about China and the big questions it faces in the near future at

soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Rick

    Fareed needs to take his Muslim loving ass back to India!

    May 5, 2012 at 10:08 am | Reply
    • .

      The Muslims would chop off his head, throw his body in a ditch and post the video on Islamo You Tube.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:54 am | Reply
  2. Walter

    It truly doesn't matter what we think about China. They own billions of dollars of our debt, and it keeps going up. Eventually, they'll get to a point where they'll to us to jump and we'll say how high.

    May 5, 2012 at 10:27 am | Reply
    • pravin

      Not quite.. as The Cheney once observed "Deficits do not Matter"... if the Chinese balk we simply threaten default like Argentina and.. most recently.. Greece.. give them back 25% on the dollar in new Treasuries whilst cancelling the Old.. 2 Trillion gone with the wind... involuntary exchange for $500b... US debt reduced by 1.5T.. now that is tangible debt reduction..

      May 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Reply
      • .

        Apparently deficits don't matter to Obama, either, because he took Cheney's deficit and tripled it.

        May 6, 2012 at 6:53 am |

    It's not that complex as you think, or wish. It's just that someone has his/her karma due... simple as that. Whether you believe in karma is irrelevant... What you do (your deed – good or bad) will be 'converted' into your karma... you will definitely receive it even if you cannot care less... In general, CCP has been doing a good job, but this doesn't mean they don't need changes... Changes will happen gradually, but not overnight... Where on earth has everything perfect? Don't just believe 100% of what you read/hear on tweeters – there are just too much gossips, and oftentimes brainless nonsense, or evil-intentioned rumors... from a Chinese.

    May 5, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
    • Welcome to the 21st Century

      A Chinese, writing from where??? Probably not China, as I'm pretty sure CNN is censored there...but, if not, you still proabably haven't been to America. I have been to China and though surprised with the amount of progress you've made since Mao, am still weary of the fact that it comes at the cost of a freedom and joy your nation has yet to even begin to understand. All governments have some form of corruption, yes, but not all governements are ruled by one party and not all governements actively eliminate all forms of popular threat to its authority.

      May 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Reply
      • Joe

        CNN is not censored in China, only BBC and YouTube. Oh and Facebook, but that's a different story since it's more business related.

        May 7, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  4. carlyjanew6

    May 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  5. tman

    i agree with high!

    May 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  6. U


    May 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  7. US China War

    Finally, the US and China are fiighting a total war.

    May 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  8. Welcome to the 21st Century

    The CCP is the illegitimate, b@ss t@rd child of Mao Zedong. I don't give any of its leadership an ounce of credit or trust and certainly don't pretend that the world or U.S. could ever benefit from anything it accomplishes. Just more of the same old shame upon shame after shame...but as all true Christians know, this is one mess only God can (and will) clean up.

    May 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Reply
    • That'snotTrue:[

      Please take the religous nonsense to the belief blog...

      May 6, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
  9. Tahir

    Easy way to defeat china is to give it the gift of democracy.It will take one year to bankrupt china.This is the current US policy to defeat china with democracy and get rid of chinese loans.

    May 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Reply
    • .

      Easiest way to stop China? Unionize the work force.

      Go ask American Airlines.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:52 am | Reply
  10. Greg Autry

    Please check out this essay on whether China is Communist or Corporate:

    May 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Reply
    • Welcome to the 21st Century

      Excellent link! Throughout my tour in Beijing, just after the olympics, the guide kept asking me "now you see the REAL China, right? Not like in your TV or newspapers?" Of course, I didn't fall for any of this "facade" there, or in Shanghai. When I asked him in private what he thought about communism he sporadically burst out laughing saying, "not for ten thousand years!" Poor guy didn't know what to say. The highlight of my journey, Lhasa, Tibet, displayed just how "free" the PRC really is; "progress and unity" under the holy Chinese Kalashnikov.

      Anyone who reads Mao's Little Red Book will see that this kind of modern, subtle and intellectual type totalitarianism is exactly what he had dreamed of.

      May 5, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
      • john

        Have you ever been to Alabama to check how free America is?

        May 6, 2012 at 3:04 am |
      • .

        Have YOU ever been to Alabama, John?

        I suspect not.

        May 6, 2012 at 6:50 am |
  11. gunsnfknroses

    Finally a decent article. Mr. Zakaria you are a very talented, intelligent man, I just wish you could exercise your abilities free of political agenda and just write as a neutral observer as you just did now

    May 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Reply
    • Ngo111

      Fareed is an ideologue.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  12. canadiantraveller

    Another attempt at analysis by pundits who writes strings of reasonable words, but ultimately fails to make any real sense.

    Anyone who thinks of China as an efficient technocracy – or perhaps an improved form of controlled free market really has no idea what is happening in China. The first part of the growth is the easy part, it's the low hanging fruits that has undoubtedly create massive wealth very quickly. If you think of any early days of industrial revolutions, he bold and adventurous will become wealthy – and this is what has been happening in China.

    The real story behind the gains in China's economy is not one of brilliant selfless technocrats. China is successful because Deng's revolution was essentially a purely cutthroat capitalism. The real success is driven by the entrepreneurs and at a more shady level, the well connected princelings and relatives of the technocrats that Zakaria speaks in such glowing terms about.

    Peel away the massive gains in China and you see what the microblogs in China have been discussing for more than a decade. China is a vastly unjust country when it comes to growth. The disparity in wealth in China makes Wall Street look like a Kumbaya singalong.

    Zakaria is a great believer of Plato's ideal of technocrats ruling justly, but China is precisely a perfect example of the flaw in those who believe in big governments and technocrats. Go to the provinces and the villages, and you will see technocrats not working selflessly for the public good, but officials expropriating land unjustly to enrich relatives. You find children of mid level technocrats believe they have special powers over the general public.

    Each level of government in China can exercise power with impunity.

    China is not a glowing story of a well oiled machinery of a technocracy dispensing progress to the greater good. It is a perfect reminder that when it comes to the question of Who Guards the Guardians? There is no credible answer beyond the need to limit the powers of the rulers in any society.

    May 5, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  13. Fareed Zakaria

    Please put it in my butt!!! Oh God, please!

    May 6, 2012 at 5:04 am | Reply
    • Maersk

      Haven't you been fingering your azz the way the Indians do anyway?

      May 6, 2012 at 6:52 am | Reply
  14. Fareed Zakaria

    Im just trying to bring you guys the fakest news possible, while CNN chokes it in a coke bottle and lets it seep down my throat cause I love semen!

    May 6, 2012 at 5:05 am | Reply
  15. .

    Fareed Zakaria never met a taxpayer funded donation to a public sector union pension bailout disguised as an infrastructure project that he didn't like.

    May 6, 2012 at 6:49 am | Reply
  16. JimfromBham

    Normally, I enjoy reading Fareed's essays but this one left too many loose ends. For instance, the essay did not explain or summarize the reasons for Bo's departure.

    In any event, it was insightful to compare China to a corporation, and to point out the enormous influence of the technocrats. To count Bo and others like him completely out, however, ignores the history of the technocrats. Deng Xiao Peng, who Mao labeled a "capitalist roader", spent several years in a re-education camp before he re-emerged as the leader of the CCP.

    May 6, 2012 at 8:13 am | Reply
  17. stateschool

    Is it just me, or is China a fascist (I don't mean Nazi!) oligarchy?

    May 6, 2012 at 8:52 am | Reply
  18. George Patton

    How easy it is for all these right-wing nutjobs on this web page to bash the so-called "dictatorship" in China without saying anything about the M.I.C. running the government here in Washington, D.C.!!! I bet that almost none of these people know anything about the history of China nor about it's culture. If any of these uneducated lemmings knew how China tried a so-called "democracy" in the last 100 years and failed at it miserably, they'd shut up!!!

    May 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Thank you, George. I totally agree.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  19. crosswave

    Fareed Zakaria – global expert on any topic ??? Give me a break .. This person will write an opinion on anything he knows zero about. This story is very complex .. No one has ALL THE FACTS.

    May 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply
    • stan

      Yup, totally agree. Once upon a time I actually considered Fareed worth a read now and then, but over the last couple years he has become completely unpalatable. Fareed is more the a head of a personality cult than an experienced commentator. No person has the time or capacity to be that informed on so many far flinging topics as he has of late, but he pours the kool-aid and they drink it up so what are you going to do?

      May 7, 2012 at 8:38 am | Reply
  20. BSH

    "whether he believed this things is immaterial"

    That statement may have some limited truth, but it also betrays a fundamental problem. Sociopaths rising to power are destructive to civil society, justice, and good effective government. No matter your system – communist empire, democratic republic, absolute monarchy or anything else – a sociopath rising to power brings about destruction. In a technocratic authoritarian place like China, one hopes that those identified as sociopaths could be executed before they get too far.

    May 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  21. krm1007

    Overly obsessed with China....jealously or fear? China is only relevant to USA from India's perspective not from American. So is India using Americans to promote its agenda against China? Seems to be.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  22. Ngo111

    Fareed is such an ideologue and looks at everything through the "glasses" of his favored viewpoint.

    May 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Reply
  23. Craig

    Now if they can only get rid of politics in the U.S. and have our country run by people with real brains instead of hot air, then maybe we can start to turn our country around too. Politics: There can never be too little of it.

    May 7, 2012 at 3:29 am | Reply
  24. cmmrc

    However, let us try to find out that the Americans know the meanings of "politics".
    In terms of the communism and capitalism, China is the former and US is the later.
    It seems that ALL Americans can see that China is a dictatorship and ruled by one party which is the Chinese Communist Party, and US is a two party democracy.
    How many Americans can see that both Republicans and Democrats are Capitalists?
    Are both Republican Party and Democrat Party Capitalist Party?
    Therefore, the fact is that US is a dictatorship as well, and one party, which is the American Capitalist Party, because both Republicans and Democrats are Capitalists, rules Americans. US election is nothing but mere formality, since no matter who won the US election Americans are always ruled by Capitalists.
    The chances are that the fact is very few American can see that.
    Forget about the name and form, look at the facts only for a moment, the difference between China and US is that one is one party rule and says it is one party rule, the other is one party rule and says it is two parties democracy.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:13 am | Reply
  25. cmmrc

    I hope Americans can see the following as well.
    If, I mean if, let us assume that US is a democracy.
    I hope Americans can see the fact of US democracy effectively eliminates all ways and means that might fix our problems if it might take more than three years, since we will not let these continue it we did not see the result in three years.
    Unfortunately, fix a mistake often takes longer than making it.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:25 am | Reply
  26. krm1007

    I get it that USA is using India to do its dirty work against China. But for the life of me i can't understand why Americans are not repsonding the Indians double crossing them in Iran???? I say stop all transfer of nuclear technology to India which will jepardize the safety of billions of people in that region, to begin with. This question will be asked of the US presidential candidates as it will involves the American conscience they are so proud of.

    May 7, 2012 at 7:46 am | Reply
  27. Wangchuk

    The PRC is a one party Leninist state. They may have given up on communism but they haven't given up on the Leninist policies & methods of a one party state. In China, the CCP makes the policy decisions, the govt implements those decisions. Don't forget all political & business leaders in China are CCP members. The CCP controls the armed forces, the banks, the energy & transportation industries, the police, the major schools, the judicial system, the Supreme Peoples Court, and much of the manufacturing industry. As one Party member once said, the CCP is like God, invisible but everywhere. Nevertheless the Bo Xilai scandal has exposed cracks in the emperor's armor.

    May 9, 2012 at 10:39 am | Reply
  28. Rajeev Kumar

    I completely agree with Mr. Zakaria on this article. However, China has already built world-class corporations such as Haier and Huawei. It has had massive injections of technology into its economy and military-industrial complex, mostly through espionage, reverse engineering, and forced technology transfers from foreign multinationals. It has built world class universities. And it has invested enormous sums of money into its infrastructure, making its transport network the envy of the world and enabling it to gain enormous technical prowess. These will not go away overnight. The US is still reaping the rewards of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Hoover Dam, and other massive public investments made during the Great Depression, as well as those made even before (such as the railroads).

    Of course many of China's investments have gone into environmentally and socially destructive white elephants such as the Three Gorges Dam, but a whole generation of expert civil, hydrological, electrical, and geophysical engineers has arisen out of it. China will likely survive as a rapidly emerging power for at least a generation, and by then a new meritocracy may emerge. The only disadvantage is that China does not have a great entrepreneurial spirit or independent justice system that can allow the private sector to flourish without state intervention as it has in the United States and India.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
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