Even before Bo Xilai’s fall, I noticed that Premier Wen, in his final year in power, was getting feistier in pushing his reform agenda. Then, after Bo’s fall, Premier Wen pushed even harder. Apparently Bo was the crosshairs for quite a while.
Seems Premier Wen saw his last shot and took it. So, posits Keith B. Richburg in ‘With Bo Xilai’s ouster, China’s premier pushes more reform’:
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has seized upon the ouster of his Communist Party rival Bo Xilai to reinvigorate what had until recently seemed a lonely campaign for Western-style economic liberalization and a battle against corruption.
Since singling out Bo for criticism at a dramatic March 14 news conference, Wen has moved aggressively to press ahead with a reform agenda that had gained little traction during most of his nine years as China’s second-ranking official.
A series of bold pronouncements by the premier in recent weeks has been backed by editorials in the state-run media, leaving little doubt that Wen and the reformist faction in the party have gained the upper hand, at least for now, in the tussle over Bo that seems part of a broader ideological struggle over China’s future.
And, as an added benefit:
Some analysts said Wen appeared to be using the Chongqing incident as an opportunity for “housecleaning,” to remove Bo and others considered opposed to further economic opening before he steps down as prime minister this year.
“Wen Jiabao feels he has an obligation to get rid of this troublemaker,” said Cheng Li, an expert on Chinese elite politics at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Beware Grandpa Wen, at least for the next few months. May he be successful.