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The Deng dynasty: a picture of power

Sometimes political images speak volumes. This piece from the China Digital Times is worth posting in full.

Deng PufangThe young man wheels Deng Pufang, son of the late Deng Xiaoping, past a nervous-looking Chongqing committee secretary Bo Xilai.

It’s been a rough winter for Bo, a man who many believe was positioning himself for ascent to the Politburo standing committee. In his four years governing Chongqing, Bo waged a successful war on organized crime with former vice-mayor and Public Security Bureau chief Wang Lijun. Bo also steered a ‘red song’ campaign last summer–bringing Chongqing back to Chinese communism’s roots with propaganda ballads from the Mao era. But in early February, Wang was demoted, possibly for snooping on Bo and his wife for corruption. Days later, Wang drove in disguise to the American consulate in Chengdu. It is still unclear what he did there. He is currently undergoing ‘vacation-style therapy’ while he is investigated for ‘economic crimes’. Many believe Wang has permanently ruined Bo’s reputation.

The Deng family was tortured during the cultural revolution. Deng Pufang was thrown from a third-storey window on Beijing University campus in 1968, leaving him a paraplegic. He became a champion for the physically and mentally disabled in the 1980s, founding and chairing the China Disabled Persons’ Federation in 1988. He received the United Nations Human Rights Prize in 2003 for his work.

There are decades of political drama in this one photo. Although Bo’s father, Bo Yibo, was one of the ‘eight elders’, Deng Xiaoping was his superior. Many liken this political power play to the mafia, where rank and family determine who wins the game. Beneath Deng’s placid demeanor could be frothing rage for the man who brought back the songs of his tormentors. Bo’s downturned gaze seems to acknowledge that.

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