Bo Xilai indicted: “No-one is above the law”

Disgraced former Chongqing Party boss Bo Xilai was indicted yesterday on charges of accepting bribes, corruption, and abuse of official power. Today, Chinese newspapers have responded. The People’s Daily (人民日报) published a strongly-worded editorial under the headline “No one is above the law, and no one is exempt from the fight against corruption.” The Liberation Daily (解放日报), also a conservative paper, published a short article detailing the charges on which Bo was indicted and reprinted the People’s Daily article.

The same approach was taken by editors at the Beijing Daily (北京日报), while the Xinhua Daily (新华日报) devoted very little of its front page to the indictment. The Global Times (环球日报), a commercially run tabloid with a jingoistic and nationalist bent, broke slightly from the coverage of other papers, running a prominent title down one side of the front page, which read, “Prosecution of Bo Xilai shows China’s determination in its fight against corruption.” The Global Times also carried a full-page report on its back cover, detailing the background behind the case, as well as the response from the foreign media, which, according to Global Times journalists, “emphasizes that the Communist Party will show Bo no mercy.”

Chongqing, Dalian toe the line

Prior to Wang Lijun’s visit to the United States consulate in Chengdu in February 2012, Bo Xilai was best known for his controversial campaign against organized crime and corruption in Chongqing. Before that, Bo had served as mayor in the northeastern city of Dalian. Looking at today’s papers from these two cities, nobody would guess that the man now facing an indictment in Jinan, Shandong province, had any local significance in either Chongqing or Dalian. The Chongqing Daily (重庆日报) printed the People’s Daily editorial in full on its front page, while it also a featured a small article detailing the charges against Bo Xilai. Similarly, the Chongqing Times (重庆日报) summarised the People’s Daily editorial and carried an article outlining the charges. The Chongqing Morning Post (重庆晨报) and Chongqing Business Daily (重庆商报) carried identical headlines, reading, “Bo Xilai prosecuted on suspicion of accepting bribes, corruption, and abusing powers of office.” In Dalian meanwhile, the Dalian Daily (大连日报) and the Dalian Evening Post (大连晚报) both merely summarized the charges faced by their former mayor.

Progressive newspapers practice obedience

Publications such as the Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报) and Beijing News (新京报), two of the country’s more daring newspapers, did nothing bold on the Bo Xilai story. The Southern Metropolis Daily carries the news of his indictment as the headline of its front page, but does not go beyond reprinting copy from the Xinhua wire. Editors at the Eastern Morning Post have also gone with this tactic. The Beijing News merely noted “Bo Xilai Indicted on Three Counts.”

Lesser-known newspapers add some color

The monotony of the Chinese press’s response to the news that Bo Xilai’s indictment was not limited to how different publications dealt with the news. It was also literal: not one of the above-mentioned newspapers printed so much as a mug shot of Bo. The Xiaoxiang Morning Post (潇湘晨报), a newspaper based in Hunan, first demonstrated its independent streak when, in solidarity with striking journalists at the Southern Weekly, it refused to print a critical editorial from the Global Times. This time around, the Xiaoxiang Morning Post features a large picture of Bo on its front page, his eyes closed and his expression solemn. The headline is lifted from within the People’s Daily editorial, and it reads, “Nobody can rely on chance for this ‘minister beyond punishment.’ The New Anhui Evening Post (新安晚报) also carries the same picture and headline, together occupying over half of its front page. Modern Express, a newspaper owned by Xinhua, went to so far as to print a large picture of Bo apparently wiping tears from his eyes. This paper, like all other papers, did not make any independent comment on the significance of the indictment of a man once talked about as a potential future leader of China.

Links and sources 
Xinhua Daily (新华日报) 薄熙来昨日被提起公诉
Liberation Daily (解放日报) 法治没有特区 反复没有例外
People’s Daily (人民日报) 法治没有特区 反复没有例外
Beijing Daily (北京日报) 薄熙来涉嫌受贿,贪污,滥用职权案提起公诉
Global Times (环球日报) 审判薄熙来是依法治国的清晰重申
Chongqing Daily (重庆日报) 法治没有特区 反复没有例外
Chongqing Times (重庆时报)薄熙来提起公诉
Chongqing Morning Post (重庆晨报) 薄熙来涉嫌受贿、贪污、滥用职权案提起公诉
Chongqing Business Daily (重庆商报)
Dalian Daily (大连日报)薄熙来涉嫌受贿、贪污、滥用职权案提起公诉
Dalian Evening Post (大连晚报) 薄熙来涉嫌受贿、贪污、滥用职权案提起公诉
Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报)薄熙来在济南公诉
Eastern Morning Post (东方早报) 薄熙来昨在济南被公诉涉嫌受贿贪污滥用职权
Beijing News (新京报)薄熙来三宗罪被诉
Xiaoxiang Morning Post (潇湘晨报)谁都不能心存“刑不上大夫”侥幸
Modern Express (现代快报)薄熙来昨被提起公诉

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