Event Detail


Bo Xilai's Fall and Xi Jinping's Rise:

John Garnaut
Monday, 18 Feb 2013
Book Signing and Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm
Auditorium. 1/F Duke of Windsor Social Services Building, 15 Hennessy Road, Wanchai

The Royal Geographical Society is pleased to welcome well-known author and journalist John Garnaut to speak on "Bo Xilai's Fall and Xi Jinping's Rise: How Power Really Works in China".   The story of Bo Xilai's fall is an extraordinary tale of excess, political purges, defection, ideological disputes and the Byzantine dealings of the Communist Party's great families. In this lecture, John Garnaut shows how Mr Bo's fall provides the background to the rise of incoming President Xi Jingping, how Mr Bo's Chongqing rule is a unique case study of how power works in China and looks at various cases of alleged mafia-state collusion across the country.

The implosion of prominent Communist Party leader Bo Xilai's political edifice in Chongqing provides a unique core sample of how power worked in at least one corner of China. Chongqing was extreme, but Mr Garnaut questions whether it was unique, as he describes some of his findings around the country and shows how money, politics and violence meld together in different farflung corners of the nation. What made Mr Bo different, argues Mr Garnaut, was his towering selfbelief, the Byzantine dealings of his family and the entanglements with other great Communist Party families.

In the lecture, John Garnaut examines how Mr Bo's stellar rise through the ranks troubled his more reformist peers, as he revived anti'capitalist road' sentiment through his "Chongqing model ", even while his family and associates enjoyed the more open economy's opportunities. Amid their fears that his imminent elevation to the powerful Standing Committee might lead China towards another destructive period, Mr Garnaut speculates on why his opponents seized their chance to destroy Mr Bo's power and what he stood for, in particular the ideology, corruption and brutality of Mr Bo's outwardly successful administration of the city of Chongqing.

When news of the trial of Bo Xilai's wife reached public attention, it was apparent that, as with many events in the secretive upper echelons of Chinese politics, there was more to the story. Now, during the biggest leadership transition in decades, as the Bo family's longtime rival Xi Jinping assumes the Presidency, China's rulers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their internal divisions behind closed doors. John Garnaut argues that this incredible glimpse into the very personal power struggles within the Chinese Communist Party exposes the myth of the unified oneparty state. With China aspiring for superpower status, this leadership shuffle may set the tone for international relations for decades. Thus, Mr Garnaut reveals a particularly Chinese spin on the old adage that the personal is political.

John Garnaut hails from Australia where, having read in law and arts at university, he worked for three years as a commercial lawyer at Melbourne firm Hall & Wilcox. He joined the Sydney Morning Herald in 2002 as Economics Correspondent in the Canberra press gallery. Since 2007, he has been posted to Beijing as the China correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and also covers elite politics for Foreign Policy magazine. His work on China has been recognised with several awards, including the 2009 Walkley Award for his reporting of the detention of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu. He is the author of "The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo ", published in 2012. Mr Garnaut also resided in Beijing for two years in the 1980s, while his father was posted as the Australian ambassador.

HK$150 for Members of the RGS; HK$200 for guests and others.

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