Saturday, 24 August 2013

China's Version of an Open Trial

Bo Xilai is intent on winning points in the court of public opinion
Bo Xilai's trial is stretching to its fourth day on Sunday.

And all everyone is relying on are the weibo or tweets coming from Jinan Intermediate Court where the trial is being held.

But we have to laugh when Xinhua says "media at home and abroad have hailed the openness and transparency showed by real-time online broadcasts and updates from Bo Xilai's trial in an east China court".

The report added, "The public also generally believe that this showcases the Communist Party of China's (CPC) resolve in combating corruption and that the move represents historic progress for the rule of law in China."

Not so fast.

Since there are no foreign reporters allowed in the room, we have no idea of the time lag when something is said and when it is broadcast online. To say it is in real time is a big boast.

Foreign reporters also observed that in the second and third day of the trial, the microblog posts were coming slower and less frequent, guessing that they were being vetted.

How is Bo's trial to be considered open and transparent when there is only a single source allowed to report from the courtroom is laughable.

But state media hopes that because it's printed, it's believable.

In the state's eyes, the trial is "transparent" in that it is not as much as a show trial as others before Bo have been, even though the state has already decided his verdict.

So how does that represent "historic progress for the rule of law in China"? It's hardly a baby step forward.

Meanwhile can we talk about Bo Guagua's lavish lifestyle? According to prosecutors he made many trips abroad, apparently all funded by businessman Xu Ming and in particular a private jet from Dubai to South Africa where he brought home an edible souvenir in the form of a hunk of wild animal meat on a wooden rack.

Seems his mother Gu Kailai indulged her son, and perhaps even more so after she found out Bo was having extramarital affairs, thus landing him the nickname Bo Qilai or "Erect Bo".

Maybe this is what Xinhua means by a transparent and open trial -- seeing the Bo family's life of sex, money and power laid bare on the record.

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