By RONG REN
CHONGQING (China Daily Show) — Tributes were pouring in yesterday for Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai, after he offered his resignation to focus on solo projects.
Once nicknamed “the Selecta,” Bo had been almost single-handedly responsible for resurrecting the mountain city’s ailing music industry, with a slew of “country and Eastern” records such as 2010’s The Red Album and 2011’s The Non-Gambler.
“I have enormously enjoyed working with the Chongqing Municipality House Band over the last few years,” wrote Bo in his letter. “But we both want to go in different directions. You need more of the same. I want to go left. It’s time to move on.”
As the son of Bo Yibo, a revolutionary leader and one of the CCP’s “Eight Immortals,” it was Bo Jr’s belief in traditional socialist values that first led a grateful public to dub Bo the “People’s Princeling.”
His dedication to social mobility, for example, saw entire communities uproot themselves. A separate interest in public housing, meanwhile, led to profitable collaborations with real-estate developers in the city state. Many compare him to a modern-day Robin Hood.
Together with Wang Lijun, formerly of The Police, Bo led a well-publicized crackdown on “black” elements in the region. “Chongqing had been infamous from the late 1980s for its gritty West Side gangsta image,” said local lawyer Li Xun. “Bo and Wang crushed this triad culture and revived the old-time socialist country music.
“They encouraged people to fall in love with revolutionary culture, all over again,” added Li. “Of course, by revolution, I mean status quo. And by encourage, I mean force.”
Folksy hits such as “She left me for a capitalist roader,” “All I need is this bottle of baijiu (and a Chairman Mao poster)” and “Take me home, Third Ring Road” even spawned so-called “red song” rallies, attended by thousands of pensioners lured by an unlimited lunch buffet.
Soon, television came reluctantly calling. At Bo’s urging, the smash-hit dating show How Much Do You Earn? was replaced with 1950s period drama Fiscally Responsible Housewives, which proved popular with the nostalgic 75-85 stay-at-home grandmother demographic.
But after Wang and Bo fell out – a rivalry bitterly anatomized in Wang’s heartfelt 2012 cover ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ – the hits dried up and the pock-marked princeling’s Chongqing salad days were seemingly numbered. Nevertheless, news of his resignation still came as a shock to many.
“Is it really true? This is big problem,” wept clothing vendor Hu Bai, who had just taken delivery of half-a-million Bo Xilai t-shirts. “How am I going to sell all these?”
Others pointed out the immeasurable loss to culture. “The music world hasn’t been this badly hit in years. First Michael, then Whitney, now Bo. Who’s next – Weird Al?” wondered one record executive.
China’s ruling party has taken the offer of Bo’s resignation in its stride, however.
“Comrade Bo and the Party have fulfilled their duties to the satisfaction of the people,” said Chongqing Municipal CPC Committee spokesperson Wang Ke. “Now it’s time to cease all discussion of the topic.”
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