Chinese Shadows

NEW YORK – These are interesting times in China. A senior Communist Party official, Bo Xilai, is brought down – accused of offenses that include wire-tapping other party bosses, including President Hu Jintao – while his wife is investigated for her alleged role in the possible murder of a British businessman. Meanwhile, a blind human-rights activist escapes from illegal house arrest, finds refuge in the United States’ embassy in Beijing, and leaves the compound only after claims that Chinese authorities in his hometown had threatened his family.

Despite exhaustive press coverage of these events, it is remarkable how little we actually know. The British businessman’s body was allegedly cremated before any autopsy was conducted. None of the lurid tales about Bo’s wife have been proven. And the reasons for her husband’s political disgrace remain murky, to say the least.