Xinhua News, the official voice of China’s official voices, released a full account of the case of Wang Lijun, former police chief of Chongqing whose failed attempt to defect to the United States earlier this year started a series of political drama surrounding China’s now disgraced politician Bo Xilai. The case is under international spotlight because it involves the murder case of British man Neil Heywood. The murderer Bogu Kaolai, Bo Xilai’s wife, got suspended life sentence just a few weeks ago.
The Xinhua article titled “On the scale of law – Exclusives on Wang Lijun’s case and trial” was the first detailed account of the murder case (Don’t be fooled by the headline, it was a serious report). Interestingly, Bo Xilai’s name wasn’t mentioned even once throughout the 3-page report. If someone without any background knowledge reads the article, they will never think of that someone named Bo Xilai is at the center of the case.
Chinese netizens’ reactions to the story can be very well summarized by 随遇而安lzy’s comments: “At least, they manage to have a cohesive plot this time.” But the whole case is still a stranger-than-fiction story, “Kudos to the playwright!” continued 随遇而安lzy.
Bo Xilai, China’s You Know Who
Xinhua’s mastery of storytelling put J. K. Rowling to shame. Throughout the narrative, Wang LiJun was reported to “maintain close relationship with Bogu Kailai’s family” and “often pay visits to Bogu Kailai’s home” as if in China, it’s custom to refer a household by the wife’s name. Bo Guagua, son of Bo Xilai and Bogu Kailai and whose endangered personal safety prompted Bogu Kailai’s action of murder, was referred to as “someone surnamed Bo” – what a surprise that he wasn’t surnamed otherwise. And the best of all, Bo Xilai himself was referred to as “the leading official of the Communist Party of Chongqing Committee.” This “leading official” slapped Wang Lijun in the face when Wang reported that Bogu Kailai was suspect of the murder case. The slap in the face, according the article, brought the intensified conflict between Wang and Bogu Kailai’s family into the open.
As always, Chinese netizens were quick to pick up the wording and started to made fun of it. 老黑头爱点泡 asked: “So this guy’s last name was ‘leading’ and first name was ‘official’?” Roby酱 went more blatant, “’Leading official’…who is this leading official? Why not write out his name directly? What to fear?” Micael_ shared the doubt: “Did this “leading official” only play a walk-on part in the whole story? Was he there just to make that slap in Wang’s face so that Wang had enough reason to feel humiliated and defect to the US?” barley麦田 commented: “In addition to ‘relevant organs’, now we have another big boss “leading official’.”
Despite all the questions regarding this mysterious “leading official,” the term already became the new Internet meme. 潘石屹, famous real estate developer who has over 120 million followers on Sina Weibo explained why he cannot make it to a hangout: “They invited me, too, but my wife didn’t give me permission to go. Ah, right, now I should say “the leading official of my family” didn’t give me permission to go.” @安替, famous columnist, commented, “Using Xinhua style, my wife should be referred to as the leading official of my family from now on.”
A slap in the face that has changed the cause of history in China
The lengthy report gave no specific reason of how the conflict between Wang and Bo’s family started, nor how the conflicts aggravated. There was the mention of Bogu Kailai losing trust in Wang after confessing the entire murder process to him (yeah, according to the report, she confessed it all to him in great detail at her place for no good reasons and he secretly recorded everything), but the report also made it feel like that all came down a slap in the face. This was no usual slap. It was a slap made by the “leading official” in the face of Wang Lijun on Jan 29 after Wang reported Bogu Kailai as suspect in Mr. Heywood’s murder on Jan 28 (Let’s just say that Bo Xilai wasn’t the quickest to respond to the news that his wife was a murderer).
Many netizens agreed that this was one slap that have historical significance to China. 炎黄胄裔 commented: “The slap changed China’s history and prevented China from heading to another Culture Revolution. To some extent, the slap in Wang’s face was the greatest slap of all slaps.” 又傻又贱又痴又呆 sighed: “A slap in the face caused a whole year of political drama.” 雁山云江 joked: “Forget about Butterfly Effects, we now have Slap Effects – a slap shacked the whole world.”
If there is any takeaway from the story, that is when in China, don’t walk around and slap people in the face because, as China’s News Weekly commented, “A slap in the face, no matter in children’s world or grown-ups’ world, is a very serous matter.”
Rumor becomes synonym of prophecy
Weibo celebrity 菊十一画 commented: “The Xinhua report confirms once again that in China, rumors are simply prophecies told before the truth comes out.” Rumors had it that Wang was slapped in the face, that Wang received houses as bribes from Xu Ming, a Dalian based billionaire who has close relationships with Bo’s family, that people working for Wang were secretly under investigation. The Xinhua report confirmed every single piece of the rumors.
At the end of day, the Xinhua report raised more questions than answered. It’s not yet clear why Bogu Kailai, as a lawyer herself, would tell Wang how she murdered Mr. Heywood in detail. It’s not yet clear what role did Bo Xilai play in all of this. The Chinese, as well as the world, cannot wait to see the last piece of this political trilogy. [For the full Xinhua report, click here. For an summery in English, click here]