Inside threats constitute greatest concerns for top Chinese leaders, Anderlini says

HONG KONG_ The greatest concern for top Chinese leaders of the Communist Party is threats from powers inside, Jamil Anderlini said during his speech on “The Bo Xilai scandal” at the HKBU-SOPA forum Thursday.

Jamil Anderlini, from Financial Times (By Eileen)

Jamil Anderlini, from Financial Times (By Eileen)

Anderlini has been a winner of Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) awards twice. This year, he was awarded for excellence in feature writing. Having worked as foreign correspondent in Beijing for over six years, Anderlini is now Beijing bureau chief of the Financial Times.

During the speech, he talked about unknown aspects concerning power manipulation of top Chinese leaders predicated on his investigations of the Bo Xilai case. He also shared his experience on conducting investigative reporting under China’s political environment.

The open trial of Bo, is a ‘show’ to demonstrate how ‘open’ the legitimate system is, which in reality served major political goals of Chinese central power, Anderlini said.

“The first [goal] is all parts of consolidation of power by the current leadership and the second is that the party will continue to hold power in the foreseeable future,” he said, “An open trial is not open.”

Foreign media are only allowed to stay in an area far from the courtroom when he went to cover the trial in August.

“Bo is already a dead tiger,” Anderlini said, quoting a Chinese military posterity whose identity he did not want to reveal, suggesting that current top leaders have been using the Bo affair to distract people and secure their power.

“Bo’s case is nothing about money,” he said, “Top Chinese leaders care more about power than money. Their collection of money is actually an indication of insecurity: They are afraid that one day they will step down.”

Son of Bo Yibo, a privileged Chinese senior, Bo is of great nobility and family background, which could have secured him for top positions under the political environment of China.

“Were it not for the fight between Bo and Wang, or his wife killing Neil, Bo might be the president,” Anderlini said.

On November 15, 2011, Neil Heywood, an English businessman associated with Bo’s family, was found dead in a hotel in Chongqing. Wang Lijun, then vice-mayor and head of Public Security Bureau of Chongqing, was responsible for investigating the case. During the investigation, he secretly informed Bo that Gu Kailai (Bo’s wife) was involved. On February 6, 2012, Wang traveled to Consulate General of the United States in Chengdu and asked for political asylum out of considerations of personal security.

In his speech, Anderlini also showed pictures related to Bo’s case from various media, implicating hidden facets behind the scandal, concerning which many stories could be revealed. The same holds true for many other political issues in China.

Back to investigative journalism in Asia, a broader theme central to this year’s SOPA forum, he said Chinese media are very much restricted, while foreign media enjoy more freedom and advantage.