'Dead Men Tell No Tales'

By Gao Xin
2013-07-09
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This illustration shows millionaire Xu Ming behind prison bars.
ImagineChina

Bo Xilai fever, which was considerably dampened by [President] Xi Jinping's "China dream" [speech] ... at the beginning of this year ... is warming up again following the trial of former railways minister Liu Zhijun.

[Millionnaire] Xu Ming, No. 1 financial baron to Bo Xilai, who has himself been reported as "disappeared" by his relatives to the foreign media, has now been reported as having "died in prison," although the media revealing this admitted that the news "had yet to be confirmed by the [ruling] Chinese Communist Party."

If Xu Ming has really been [killed] ... then this will mean that we can forget about a death penalty, a life term or a suspended death sentence: Bo Xilai will get no more than 15 years in prison at the very most.

The reason for this can be summed up simply: "Dead men tell no tales!"

This writer has no way of confirming whether Xu Ming has really died or not, or if he's pretending to be dead, or if his death has been faked. But it is possible to work out from perusal of the "legitimate" Chinese media that all reports about Xu Ming ceased at the end of March last year ... which means that he hasn't been seen for 15 months. No Chinese Communist Party officials have confirmed whether or not he has been sent to jail in the first place, so they are unlikely to confirm that he has died there.

The accuracy of these "behind-the-scenes" reports is relatively unimportant, but what is unlikely to be reliable is the notion that Xu Ming's job was to act as "finance minister" for Bo Xilai and [former security minister] Zhou Yongkang ... and finance their [rumored] coup attempt.

Whatever political and organizational collusion existed between Bo and Zhou, it never got as far as planning a "coup." It didn't go any further than Zhou Yongkang hoping that Bo Xilai would take over his own position at the head of the central political and legal affairs committee after he gained a place on the standing committee of the Politburo at the 18th Party Congress. This would ensure that Zhou's interests, and those of his family, wouldn't be damaged by his retirement, and that the status quo would be preserved.

'Those who dug the well'

Ever since [late supreme leader] Deng Xiaoping and [former president] Yang Shangkun did a deal with some Hong Kong tycoons—using "central policy" under the banner of "reform and opening up"—to launch the commercial careers of the Deng and Yang dynasties, everyone who wields power in the Chinese Communist Party at every level has had an in-depth understanding of the meaning of the phrase "let some people get rich first."

Party and government leaders at every level have used government policy to create thousands upon thousands of red capitalists, most of whom have a deep understanding of the ancient Chinese saying "those who drink the water shouldn't forget those who dug the well," just as we shouldn't forget that this article is about Xu Ming and Bo Xilai.

Looked at from this angle, everyone in power, big or small ... whether it's Xi Jinping ... or Zhou Yongkang or Bo Xilai, would privately think that it would be a good thing if Xu Ming were dead.

If we assume that Xi Jinping and [Party disciplinary chief] Wang Qishan don't want to execute Bo Xilai, who is currently in the hands of the investigation team, then naturally they won't want Xu Ming to lay bare too many details of Bo Xilai's crimes.

No one at any level of political power in the Communist Party is under any illusion that the relationship between Bo Xilai and Xu Ming was special or unusual, under the system of a market economy and socialism with Chinese characteristics.

If Xu Ming were to choose to silence himself while in prison in order to protect Bo Xilai, he may not be designated a revolutionary martyr, but he would certainly win the praises of everyone in power.

Gao Xin, a former pro-democracy activist in Beijing, now lives in the U.S. and is a regular contributor to RFA's Mandarin Service on issues of high intrigue in the Chinese Communist Party.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.