The public hasn't seen or heard from high-ranking Communist Party leader Bo Xilai since he was sacked last week in Beijing, and the Chinese Internet has been awash with debate over what's actually going on behind palace walls. "People are nervous, there's not much information available," Bo Zhiyue, an expert on Chinese elite politics at the National University of Singapore, told AFP. "They are hungry for new information, and if there's nothing new, they will make up new information."
Speculation is rife that a coup might have happened, with the only general consensus being that something big is going on in Beijing. What follows is a curated guide to the "information" -- read: wild rumors and speculation -- floating around online in Chinese about Bo Xilai's surprising fall from grace and what his sacking means for the future of the Chinese Communist Party.
1. Bo Xilai was sacrificed in the name of party unity.
The rumor: Although Bo had widespread support in the high leadership, current President Hu Jintao and former President Jiang Zemin (who's not dead, though this was rumored, too) agreed to kick him out to facilitate a smooth power transition for Xi Jinping this fall. The 85-year old Jiang, an ally of Bo's now deceased father, turned on Bo Xilai for the good of the Communist Party.
Really?: For a party bent on showing a united front to outsiders, Bo Xilai, with his loud populism and his overt (at least for China) thirst for power, apparently proved too dangerous. Analysts sometime classify Hu Jintao as belonging to a different faction of the party than Jiang Zemin, but the two leaders have worked together to houseclean in the past; apparently cutting a deal to depose a powerful Shanghai party chief in 2006.
The source: Various Taiwanese and Hong Kong media websites that tend to mix assertion with fact when reporting on elite Chinese politics.
Likelihood: Possible but unprovable at the moment, at least until someone releases better sourcing or better documentation.
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