Bo Xilai’s been busy feeding the seagulls in Yunnan, but nobody reading the papers in Chongqing will ever get to hear of it.
After featuring the political calligraphy of Bo Xilai prominently on its front page for two consecutive days on Feb 8 and Feb 9, Chongqing Daily appears to have done an about-face in its treatment of the municipal Communist Party chief. Today, it was Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan that occupied much of the paper’s front page.
Since the Wang Lijun saga began, in which the former municipal police chief was relieved of his duties and later found to have visited the US Consulate-General in Chengdu without proper approval, Bo has been keeping up a busy schedule making site inspections in Yunnan province, and feeding sea gulls at the Dian Lake, located by the provincial capital Kunming.
None of that, however, was visible in Chongqing’s local media. Aside from Chongqing Daily, four other major newspapers that gave Bo the silent treatment included the Chongqing Morning Post, Chongqing Times, Chongqing Business Post and Chongqing Evening Post.
While Bo’s site visits were placed prominently on the cover of the Yunnan media, the sudden silence of the local media in his own power base raises many questions.
Rumours currently circulating in Chongqing media circles are that any coverage on Bo Xilai will first have to be vetted and approved by central propaganda authorities.
Related: David Bandurski of the China Media Report has an excellent roundup of the Chinese media’s treatment of the Wang Lijun saga.