The ouster of scandal-ridden mainland Chinese politician Bo Xilai and the detention of his wife Gu Kailai in connection with the murder of Briton Neil Heywood continued to dominate local news reports Thursday.
Most reports agreed that the former Chongqing communist party chief's fall from grace has provided a rare public glimpse into infighting among China's ruling elite, who usually settle differences or rifts behind closed doors.
Some analysts cited in the reports said China should put Bo on open trial to show its determination to political reform and commitment to uphold rule of law.
The following are excerpts from local media coverage on how China should deal with controversy surrounding Bo and his family:
United Daily News:
Bo was the most senior Chinese official to fall from power in years. Before his abrupt downfall, he had actively campaigned for one of the nine seats on the next Politburo Standing Committee, the elite body that will run China under current Communist Party of China General Secretary Hu Jintao's anointed successor Xi Jinping after a party congress this fall.
A bizarre incident in February, however, unraveled his political fortune.
Wang Lijun, former Chongqing deputy mayor and police chief who led an acclaimed anti-gangster campaign, went to the U.S. Consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu on Feb. 6, supposedly seeking protection after a falling out with Bo over an investigation involving a Bo family member.
Though details were sketchy at the time, Chinese authorities said earlier this week that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, and an orderly at their home are being investigated for homicide in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood in Chongqing last November.
Other charges against Bo also emerged, including accusations of shakedowns, the use of torture to gain confessions, selective prosecutions and a trampling of criminal procedure in the crackdown on gangsters.
While announcing Bo's ejection from the Politburo and broader Central Committee, Chinese authorities said Bo "seriously violated party discipline" and should be dealt with according to party regulations.
Referring to detention of Bo's wife and orderly, Beijing authorities also said there is no privileged citizen before the law.
Against this backdrop, local political pundits said China should put Bo on public trial to clarify many lurid scandals involving him and his family.
"The Bo case has offered China a God-sent opportunity to improve its image and show its resolve to promote rule of law in governance of the party and the nation," said an analyst.
If the Beijing leadership fails to do so and instead maintains a veil of secrecy by deciding Bo's fate behind closed doors, its ruling will lack credentials to win public support, local pundits said, adding that the Beijing regime's reputation and image will also be at stake.
"Public trial of Bo is required in China's legal system and also a necessary political choice for Beijing leaders," a pundit said. "It is also the only way for Beijing leaders to turn the scandal into a strategy to improve their national image." (April 12, 2012).
The Bo's fall has shown the growing power of modern communications. Forty years ago a somewhat similar episode involving Mao Zedong's handpicked successor, Lin Biao, was hushed up for years. But now social media, the Internet, blogs and the greater freedom of individuals in China make it impossible to crack down in the old way.
The Beijing leadership tried to shut down debate, blocking websites that hosted postings on the Bo case but it could not prevail in the end. (April 12, 2012)
(By Sofia Wu)