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

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Crowdfunding Helps Save Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit

Smithsonian turns to Kickstarter to raise more than $700,000 to help preserve the spacesuit worn by the first man to walk on the moon More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs