SPEAKING FREELY Houses of the holy in China and Moscow
By Jonny Connor
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click hereif you are interested in contributing.
In 1973, the British rock bank Led Zeppelin decided to give a gift to their legions of fans and record a live concert over three days at Madison Square Garden in New York. They probably never thought that 40 years later in another House of the Holy a band called the Apparatchik would put on a live performance over a week in the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, Shandong province, as the trial of Edward Snowden would be broadcast over the Internet and other media in China.
Wait, Edward Snowden is in Russia. Hong Kong (China) let him
leave in the middle of the night with all of his laptops and information. Now he is somewhere in Russia, a free man. How can he be on trial in China? Well, he may as well be because in the three big Houses of the Holy - sorry Vatican, you have slipped a few notches - China, Russia and the United States, the song indeed remains the same.
It was the big show here in China; the trial of Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing mafia boss and main adversary to China's current Pope Xi Jinping. In the event you are stuck in the 1970s and still watching Led Zeppelin 35 mm movies, Bo was making a serious run to lead China for the next 10 years and maintain the continuity of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Song Remains the Same is the first song on the Houses of the Holy album, and appears midway through the live concert in 1973. The opening lines after a lengthy instrumental are: "I had a dream, a crazy dream, anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go."
I bet old Bo Xilai is singing this in his cell at the Qingcheng prison in Beijing right now, thinking that he wants to punch Wang Lijun in the ear again for screwing everything up for him when he was so close to being anywhere he wanted to be - as the Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. Only he knows what he wants to do to his "crazy" wife Gu Kilai.
I've been taking an informal poll amongst the middle aged 35-50 year old educated and upwardly mobile Chinese men here in China and the unanimous consent is that the song indeed remains the same and that the party will do whatever it takes to survive so that the next generation can use the system created by Mao to line their pockets with off shore bank accounts and villas in France. Not a great way for emerging empires to have their educated citizens thinking as they climb their way up the empire ladder to the recently vacated top.
One Berkeley-educated PhD party member thinks it a watershed event that the trial itself was quasi-broadcast and that all the people could view the justice system in action. She is correct, and as we learned in the Bradley Manning trial and we would learn in the Edward Snowden trial, the Houses of the Holy will produce a blockbuster so that everyone is riveted and forgets about the real issues at hand. As a party member, albeit a very Western- thinking one, hers' is a positive spin as there is still great personal advantage in maintaining the status quo.
So in the new Great Leap Forward the regular citizens can now see what actually happens inside of a court room where "justice" is delivered in the form of a Zhang Yimou drama entitled The Song Remains the Same. The only difference is in this one not everyone commits suicide in the end and the Holy House of Xi breathes a sigh of relief that the people bought it and will soon get back to work to keep the economy propped up at 8% annual growth.
Bo, Manning and Snowden are all former subjects of the Holy Houses and are all guilty of exposing their fallacies. Bo for his own enrichment and insatiable appetite for power, Manning for God only knows what reason, and Snowden for seemingly noble and patriotic purposes. All three will go down in dramatic fashion with Manning leading the way as a Robert Plant look alike.
So what happens after the trial of Bo? Zhou Yongkang, the most powerful ally of Bo is missing and we all know his gay partner was recently held without legal basis at Heathrow Airport while they confiscated his coolers full of harvested organs. Zhou is a retired member of the Politburo Standing Committee and head of the Chinese Public Security Bureau.
Nobody seems to be mentioning Zhou and it is likely they won't and he will just walk off the stage like Led Zeppelin after three nights at Madison Square Garden, while Bo lives the rest of his days reading Machiavelli's The Prince and listening to Led Zeppelin albums in western Xinjiang province. And you know what? The song will remain the same.
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.Please click hereif you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.
Jonny Connor lives and works in Asia and spends most of his time on the ground in the jungle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org