I stockpiled a couple dozen links about the Bo family’s… situation… when the English-language news media started paying attention last fall. But the anecdotes just kept coming*, and as an insufficiently-informed gwailo everything I drafted seemed deeply inadequate. But very few people are reading this late on a Saturday night, and besides Cole will undoubtably bump this post down fairly soon, so let me say for the record: This is one of the few Big News stories in recent years that’s had me flashing back on John Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar and the supercomputer Shalmaneser musing to itself, “What an imagination I’ve got!”
HONG KONG — Even in the inventive annals of Chinese propaganda, it was a first: show trial by microblog. When Bo Xilai, the politician whose fall convulsed the Communist Party, stood trial on Thursday, the government took the unprecedented step of reporting the proceedings to a nationwide audience of many millions over China’s equivalent of Twitter.
The court, in eastern China, reported the day’s developments on Sina.com’s Weibo service, a popular microblog platform similar to Twitter. The reports, quotes and pictures that emerged in fits and starts from the courtroom drew riveted attention from the Chinese, testament to the public’s fascination with Mr. Bo and to the power of the Chinese Internet. In recent decades, trials of former senior officials have mostly been muted in secrecy, often until hearings ended and state news media showed the officials making tearful confessions…
But as Thursday progressed, the trial began to look less polished. Mr. Bo scorned the charges and ridiculed prosecution witnesses, and the microblog feed from the courthouse, though perhaps selective, gave him an unusually prominent podium. “I really saw the ugliness of a person who sold his soul,” Mr. Bo said of one important witness for the prosecution, according to the court’s running account.
Mr. Bo appears likely to end his public career the way he advanced it: as the combative star in a drama played out over the Internet and in mass media.
“To begin with, everyone believed that it would all be prearranged,” Mr. Li said. “But now it looks less sure.” …
(cf: “… Mr. Bo is accused, among other things, of abusing his power in the case of a British businessman who the authorities say was killed by Mr. Bo’s wife, and of taking “massive bribes” directly and through his family, according to Xinhua, the state news agency. The official report’s long list of accusations against Mr. Bo, which includes adultery, seems intended to bury Mr. Bo’s political career and diminish lingering support for him within the party and among the general public…“)