Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
Bo Xilai trial's love triangle and corruption talk gives way to jokes and puns
As the exhausting five-day trial of disgraced former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai came to a conclusion on Monday, the shocking revelations of the alleged love triangle and the Bo family’s corrupt deals with various businessmen and officials have spurred bursts of jokes and puns on the internet.
One joke seems to sum up the jaw-dropping ups and downs of the princeling’s life really well:
“While your daddy might set your starting point in life, your wife is the one that determines your final destination,” goes the joke, with both a reference to Bo’s father, Bo Yibo, a prominent founding general of the People’s Republic, and to Bo’s testimony in which he blamed some of the most damaging charges against him on his wife, Gu Kailai. Gu was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve a year ago for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Internationally famous political dissident and artist Ai Weiwei also chimed in to make fun of the serious event. On his Twitter account, he posted several doctored photos that had his smiling face replacing the face of a court bailiff who escorted Bo during the trials.
A joke on Sina Weibo reads: A boss yells at his subordinates for not copying him when they send out important internal e-mails. “Do you know what triggered Bo Xilai’s downfall? It is because his wife murdered a man without copying him.” To which one employee replied, “I think it was rather because he shouted at and hit his subordinate.”
The joke refers to the testimony of Wang Lijun, Bo’s former police chief, who said he defected to the US consulate in Chengdu in February 2012 after Bo furiously confronted him about allegations of his wife’s involvement in Heywood’s murder, and punched him in the ear.
Xinhua, the usually straight-faced and staid official news agency unwittingly joined the chorus of laughter when some of its editors decided to brag about their translation skills.
“Bo Xilai tells the court that Wang Lijun was infatuated with Bogu Kailai and they were stuck together like white on rice,” one social media account operated by Xinhua English language news department wrote on Sina Weibo.
The Xinhua editors went on to explain that two groups of sub-editors, Britons and Americans, scratched their heads and debated for hours in the Xinhua news room on what the best English language terms were to describe the “inseparable” illicit relationship that Bo claimed existed between his wife and Wang Lijun. In the end, the Americans prevailed and convinced their Chinese colleagues that the stickiness of egg white spilled over rice was the most apt metaphor.
Nonetheless, the odd pick of an obscure English language idiom to describe the affair intrigued many internet users.
“Imagine that, an English language lesson from Xinhua news agency,” wrote one Weibo commentator.
An analysis of the full transcript of the five-day trial released by the Jinan court also became quite popular among netizens. According to the study, “I don’t know,” “I am unfamiliar with it,” and “It does not exist ,” were the most frequent phrases Bo spoke in court. US dollar was mentioned more frequently than renminbi, with 113 times versus 77 times respectively.
One Weibo joker quipped, “Indeed Wang has no regrets in his life, for he has achieved the two goals that ordinary men dare not dream of in their lives: to have a grand love affair without caring about the consequences and to travel to a place one loves without delay.” The travel, of course, refers to Wang’s hurried escape from Chongqing and defection to the US embassy in Chengdu in early February, 2012.