Let’s move along from all this squalor and away to Happy Guangdong, where Party Secretary Wang Yang, idol of the Right-reformist tendency, was recently embarrassed by the following revelation:
The report claimed that hundreds of Shenzhen gangsters infiltrated the city’s Chengguan forces through a program launched by the municipal government in 2007. The government paid private companies to carry out the functions of Chengguan, opening the door for for-profit organizations—and, it turned out, even gangsters—to hold public power. Prior to Gong’s scandal, the program, called the “West Village Innovative Model”(西乡创新模式), was praised by the government as an exemplary innovation which mobilized social resources to provide services for the common good.
You’ll remember that Bo Xilai first made an impact in Chongqing by a ‘strike the black’ campaign which targeted what he claimed was extensive organised crime penetration of the city government, during the course of which several very senior officials were targeted and taken down by the energetic Wang Lijun. Following Bo’s downfall, his enemies were quick to claim that the whole thing was an extortion racket designed to fund Bo’s grandiose projects. I’m sure local bigwigs will have been ‘invited’ to contribute to the bosses pet projects. But that kind of thing happens everywhere in China. The problem with the argument as a whole is that it implies that Chongqing was the only city in China which didn’t have a crime/business/politics nexus, which is frankly pretty hard to believe. My feeling is that Chongqing did have a serious problem, which Bo saw as an opportunity to establish his populist credentials. A precedent here would be Mussolini’s use of the Mafia for similar purposes. Basically, Bo took advantage of the situation he found.
What he found, he inherited from Wang Yang, his predecessor as party chief of Chongqing (Bo’s successor, Zhang Dejiang, was Wang’s predecessor in Guangdong: small world). Wang moved to Guangdong in 2007, just when Shenzhen decided to privatise its lower level policing into the local gangs. Obviously this is all very sketchy, but it does make me wonder if Wang’s reputed affection for civil society extends as far as what the Italians call ‘co-management’ of certain social problems.
Whatever the case, the rumour now is that Wang is set for a PBSC place. Interestingly, this is supposed to involve oversight over CDIC, the Communist Party’s anti-corruption force, and the Central Politics and Law Commission, which controls the whole internal security apparat along with the cops and the courts. The reform wing has welcomed this as a reining in of the securocrat empire. It may be interesting for other reasons too.