A car drives through the gate of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee. Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai was dismissed on March 15. (Photo/CNS)
With reports of a lockdown and even gunfire on the streets of Beijing on Monday evening flooding China's social networking platforms, the trigger of the turmoil — if turmoil there is — the dismissed Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai is reportedly feeling "peaceful and at ease" and the priority for the country's top leaders is to ensure a smooth changeover of power later this year, reports our sister newspaper China Times. Media reports in the last couple of days suggest however that Bo has indeed been placed under disciplinary inspection.
Bo Xilai's whereabouts have been a mystery since he was dismissed from his three official posts in the southwest municipality on March 15. Rumors have said Bo and his wife Gu Kailai have been placed under house arrest and are being investigated. However, Gu Dan, Gu's sister, attended an official funeral with her husband Li Xiaoxue in Beijing last Friday, and mentioned Bo's condition for the first time in public, saying Bo is currently at his apartment in Beijing and is at peace with his situation.
Li Xiaoxue is the son of Li Xuefeng, the late first secretary of the Beijing party committee, as well as the brother of Bo's former wife Li Danyu. The deceased at the funeral, Deng Yingtao, was the only son of the late propaganda minister Deng Liqun.
The Apple Daily in Hong Kong has reported that Deng Chun, a correspondent for the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television network, quoted on his microblog on Monday a rumor saying that Bo has been placed under "double regulation" from Saturday. Double regulation means the subject of a disciplinary investigation must appear at a specified time and location to give an account of themselves.
Conservative Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun also reported on Tuesday that Bo has been placed under double regulation, citing insiders from Beijing. The party is reportedly summoning Bo to answer for allegations of bribery on the part of his wife and the high-profile attempted defection of his right-hand man Wang Lijun.
Meanwhile, reports have been flying on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, of the sound of gunfire in central Beijing, with pictures posted saying plainclothes police officers have been posted on the streets and that some areas have been placed under martial law. However, according to the China Times correspondent in Beijing, the Chinese capital was normal on Tuesday evening. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao did not change their schedules and nothing out of the ordinary was observed, thus dampening rumors of a possible coup within the Politburo Standing Committee.
The Chongqing Daily reported on Tuesday that Bo's replacement, Zhang Dejiang, has said the municipality will hold a party meeting in May to arrange the succession of its party committee, showing the central government is in firm control of the situation in the southwestern city.
An internet user going by the name "huixiaochen" uploaded a picture on Monday showing a number of local residents in Chongqing on Sunday holding up a banner saying "the people of Chongqing love Secretary Bo" on Sunday. The action lasted for a brief couple of minutes before it was broken up by plainclothes police. Two demonstrators were reportedly taken away.
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Gu Kailai 谷開來
Gu Dan 谷丹
Deng Yingtao 鄧英陶
Li Xiaoxue 李小雪
Li Xuefeng 李雪峰
Deng Liqun 鄧力群
Zhang Dejiang 張德江