SODOM & GOMORRAH: Bo Xilai, a rising star in Chinese politics, has the best chance of defeating corruption in China.
Bo Xilai is the Chongqing Committee Secretary, the essential governor of that province. Between 2004 and 2007 he was the Chinese Minister of Commerce. It’s expected that Bo Xilai will be tapped for a high (perhaps the highest) position in Chinese national politics at next year’s people’s congress.
This last week, Bo received some harsh treatment from The Economist. Walmart has come under official scrutiny for some lax standards in food safety, and Bo has been incredibly tough on the company. The Economist suggests that Bo is being unduly hard on Walmart while letting domestic companies slide on standards. Yet this accusation stands in contrast with Bo’s political strategy.
Back in 2009, Bo Xilai was featured in The Economist for being one of the few Chinese politicians willing to combat corruption in the Communist Party. As The Economist points out, organized crime has been a serious problem in China and has detracted from economic growth, has endangered people’s lives, and has eroded confidence in the government’s ability to secure order. Bo has been fighting a very tough campaign on organized crime, arresting even members of the Communist Party when it’s obvious that they’ve been colluding with mafia groups.
Bo has proven that he’s not afraid to stand up for ordinary people even at the expense of political interests. He has attacked his friends in the Communist Party when it means protecting the broader public interest. As such, Bo’s stance toward Wallmart is more easily explained. Bo is taking food safety seriously. He is likely going after the low hanging fruit in an effort to win broader support for future efforts. The broader public is thus far cynical and suspicious of the government’s ability to ensure a safe food market; Bo is one of the few who seem prepared to tackle the issue. One must start somewhere.