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Monday, September 23, 2013

Bo Xilai sentenced to life in prison

Following a sensational, closely watched trial, former Communist Party secretary in Chongqing Bo Xilai was convicted of bribetaking, embezzlement, and abuse of power by a court in eastern China and sentenced to life in prison. More from the New York Times here

Prior to his downfall, Bo was a rising star of the Chinese politburo, having made his name partly through his "red campaigns' in Chongqing, which promoted the revival of Mao-era culture, including the public singing of and dancing to Communist songs.

Filmmaker Bo Wang, who was born in Chongqing and now works in New York, captured many of the public spectacles that typified the campaign for CHINA CONCERTO, a recent essay film that investigates the changing nature of such displays in contemporary China. 

As Bo Wang explained in a recent interview with The Asia Society:
In China there is a deep-rooted tradition of creating strong images to render the longing for a powerful nation. But I don't think the obsession with spectacles is a particular Chinese thing. I think it is also hard to distinguish the spectacles' roles as simply being political, or being consumable. They mingle together. Many images do serve for patriotic purposes, but at the same time they're meant to be consumed. In Bo Xilai's Chongqing, lots of street performances were initiated as part of the campaign. But at the same, time many others were spontaneous — this was what I found most interesting. People join the performances not because they enjoy [them] or like the lyrics. This can work as a good model to understand how social regulation and propaganda works — not through making believers, but through shaping behaviors.

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