News / Asia

    In China, Pro-Bo Xilai Party Not Seen a Threat, but a Demand for Rights

    Wang Zheng, one of the founders of Zhi Xian Party, poses in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in this handout photo taken March 7, 2013 and provided by Wang to Reuters, Nov. 10, 2013.
    Wang Zheng, one of the founders of Zhi Xian Party, poses in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in this handout photo taken March 7, 2013 and provided by Wang to Reuters, Nov. 10, 2013.
    Reuters
    A political party formed by followers of ousted politician Bo Xilai does not appear to be a threat to China's Communist rulers in itself, but is another example of a growing number of citizens speaking up for their rights and the rule of law.
     
    Several well-known supporters of Bo have distanced themselves from the China Zhi Xian Party - literally “the constitution is the supreme authority” party. Its formation last week challenges the long-ruling Communist Party's ban on other parties, but Zhi Xian is unlikely to bring people out on the streets or demand Bo's political rehabilitation.
     
    Still, founder Wang Zheng has joined a growing number of Chinese who are willing to stand up publicly for their rights, including environmentalists and groups like the New Citizens' Movement, which advocates working within the system to press for change.
     
    China's leaders, worried that any criticism of the government could get out of hand and lead to instability, have taken a hard line and jailed many of these activists, including prominent dissident Xu Zhiyong, founder of the New Citizens' Movement.
     
    “There are more and more of us. We have to push the leadership and stand up for our rights,” said Wu Lihong, an environmental activist from central China, who is currently under house arrest. “Only then can China progress.”
     
    So far the government does not appear to be taking any direct action against Wang, a Beijing academic, although her home is under surveillance by police and plainclothes security.
     
    Wang told Reuters she is no anti-government revolutionary and is not challenging the Communist Party's right to govern, which she accepts is enshrined in the constitution.
     
    Instead, the Zhi Xian Party simply wants the government to guarantee things like freedom of assembly and elections.

    “There are many important systems provided for in the constitution, like the National People's Congress and representatives of the people at various levels, but this is not happening according to the constitution. That's what I want to stress,” she said.
     
    Bo, the former Communist chief of Chongqing who won support with his crackdown on crime and pro-Mao Zedong rhetoric, was jailed for life in September after being found guilty of corruption and abuse of power. An appeals court upheld the sentence last month.
     
    The establishment of the pro-Bo party on Nov. 6 came just days before President Xi Jinping began a policy-setting meeting of the Communist Party's Central Committee. He has been reaching out to Bo's left-wing supporters in a bid to win them over and secure endorsement of his economic reform program at the closed-door meeting, scheduled to conclude on Tuesday.
     
    The government has made clear that no kind of political reform is on the cards.
     
    New Party “A Farce”

     
    While Bo's fall from grace continues to anger leftists, three of his prominent supporters said they had not joined the new party, and expressed little interest in it.
     
    Song Yangbiao, a reporter who was detained in August after urging people to protest against Bo's trial, said he had heard of the new party's establishment, but knew no details.
     
    “Nobody has said anything about it to me. I really don't know anything about its organization or who set it up. It's got nothing to do with me,” he told Reuters. “I think most of us [Bo supporters] don't know about this.”
     
    Sima Nan, a well-known defender of Bo's policies who makes a living appearing on television entertainment shows, labeled the new party a “farce”, adding that as a proud Communist Party member he would never join it, doubting Bo would either.
     
    “Everything Bo Xilai did in Chongqing was for the Communist Party. He would never join another party,” Sima told Reuters. “I think this new party is a practical joke. I know nothing of its aims or who is behind it.”
     
    Bo has been named chairman for life of the new party, but since he has been jailed it is not known if he will or is even able to accept the position.
     
    One analyst said authorities could just ignore the new party.
     
    “Certainly, there are still those in the Communist Party who support Bo, but very few would dare to stand up and say they support the Zhi Xian Party,” said Chen Ziming, an independent political commentator in Beijing. “The Communist Party is not too worried by these far leftists. If they were espousing liberal democracy, they would get locked up pretty quickly.”
     
    Nevertheless, the Communist Party has not allowed any opposition parties to be established since it came to power following the 1949 revolution. So history suggests it will not look kindly on this new party, especially when its titular head is a former member of the Communist Party's top ranks.
     
    FILE - In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, fallen politician Bo Xilai, center, is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.FILE - In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, fallen politician Bo Xilai, center, is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.
    x
    FILE - In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, fallen politician Bo Xilai, center, is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.
    FILE - In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, fallen politician Bo Xilai, center, is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.
    Bo was sacked as party chief of Chongqing after his wife was convicted in the murder of a British businessman, who had been a family friend. She has also been jailed for life.
     
    Bo's brash self-promotion irked some leaders. But his populist ways and crackdown on crime were welcomed by many of Chongqing's 30 million residents, as well as others who hoped that Bo could take his leftist-shaded policies nationwide.
     
    Han Deqiang, an academic in Beijing who has been one of the ardent defenders of Bo's policies in Chongqing, said he thought support for Bo in the Communist Party was still widespread, even if most people did not dare talk about it.
     
    “Without a doubt, many Chinese still support Bo Xilai. I think that most party members believe that it is a case of corrupt officials screwing over a clean official. I think this a view widely held in private. However, there's nothing they can do about it,” he told Reuters, adding he had not joined the new party.
     
    “Of course, this is something that makes the Communist Party very nervous,” Han said, referring to Bo's lingering influence.
     
    Whether the new party will attract more members later was not immediately clear.
     
    In a measure of the interest that could be generated, Wang told Reuters that after she was detained last year for writing two open letters in support of Bo, she was flooded with messages from his supporters.
     
    “In the space of 20 days I got more than 2,000 text messages and calls,” she said, but declined to comment on how many members the new party currently has.
     
    China's Communist Party has some 85 million members.
     
    The new party has caused heated discussion on RedChinaCN, one of the left-wing websites blocked by government censors, with not all comments supporting Wang or the new party.
     
    “All she has done is written letters to Xi, but she's never actually criticized him. She's not a real revolutionary,” wrote one commentator on the site, who like some in China are able to access it by skirting government restrictions.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora