P.L.A. is target of Bo media blitz
The unusually strong state media blitz targeting disgraced former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai is a bid to warn his army supporters to adhere to the party line and to limit the scandal's repercussions on public opinion, analysts say.
Since Bo was suspended from the Communist Party's Central Committee and the Politburo last Tuesday, state media have stepped up commentaries to a level that analysts say far exceeds that of the downfall of former Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu.
The downfalls of Bo and Chen both came about ahead of the five-yearly party congress. Chen was sacked in September 2006 for graft.
Analysts say Bejing has been more cautious in handling Bo's scandal than Chen's because military media and personnel have been deployed to show their loyalty to the party in Bo's case.
A commentary in the People's Liberation Army Daily yesterday said cadres should bear in mind the 'overall situation' of the nation, and that embracing the upcoming party congress should be their priority.
'The army should ensure that the party has absolute leadership, and the high-level stability and unity of the forces for smooth execution of military orders,' it said.
The PLA Daily and senior military officials have said over the past week that army cadres should strictly follow political discipline and should not be agitated by rumours.
Another commentary in the Chongqing Daily yesterday said Beijing's decisions on Bo and his wife were a significant 'boon' to the party, nation and Chongqing.
Over at the People's Daily, a news story said cadres and officials should not believe that they have special privileges and abuse their office for personal gain.
'The media campaign is especially targeted at the army because Bo has close connections to some senior military personnel,' said Zhan Jiang, a communications professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
'The commentaries are telling army personnel that they had better follow Beijing's orders.'
Bo's father, Bo Yibo , was a military and communist leader in the 1920s.
On his part, Bo Xilai also has personal ties to the political commissar of the PLA's General Logistics Department, Liu Yuan .
The day after the attempt of his former right-hand man Wang Lijun to defect to America, Bo made a high profile visit to the 14th Group Army in Yunnan, which was formed by his father.
That prompted rumours that Bo was planning a coup with Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang . 'Bo's connection to army personnel makes his case more serious than Chen's,' said Zhang Lifan , a current affairs commentator formerly with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
'The army usually does not meddle with political affairs. However, as Bo has influential supporters inside the party and the military, the handling of his case certainly causes friction within the party.
'That's why the authorities mobilised the military to explain their stance to forge stability.'
Qiao Mu , director of the International Communication Research Centre at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the authorities had stepped up their propaganda efforts because of greater public resentment towards the government compared with six years ago.
'The government has to release some information because the case involves a British citizen, but it also attempts to impose unified thought on the public,' he said.
'Any mishaps in the handling of Bo will create complexity for the party congress.'