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Bo Xilai: a stunning and highly public fall from grace in China (+video)

Bo Xilai, a senior Communist Party official, was abruptly dismissed amid scandal, ending his ambition of a top post. His removal could complicate a key year of political transition in China.  

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Bo Xilai, a senior Communist Party official, was abruptly dismissed amid scandal
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Never in recent Chinese history has such a senior Communist Party leader fallen so dramatically and so publicly from grace.

But it was the manner of Bo Xilai’s sudden political demise, rather than the reasons behind it, that augurs the greatest changes for China’s secretive one party rule, say Chinese analysts.

Detailed openly step by step on blogs and on fellow party leaders’ lips, Mr. Bo’s burnout has shattered the carefully cultivated myth of unity at the pinnacle of Chinese power.

For 20 years, says Peking University politics professor Zhang Jian, “there has been a basic consensus in the party … that factional struggles should never rock the ship. But the way the scandal unfolded and was managed may signal the beginning of the loss of that consensus.”

Bo, until recently a rising star in the political firmament here who clearly had his sights set on one of the nine top posts in the ruling Communist Party, was replaced as party secretary of Chongqing, a mega-city in southwestern China, the official news agency Xinhua announced Thursday. The sacking appeared to put an end to his political ambitions.

His prospects had been dimmed since bloggers revealed five weeks ago – in posts supported by photographs – that Bo’s hand-picked police chief and right-hand man, Wang Lijun, had been escorted by police away from the US consulate in Chengdu.

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