Amid rumours that the transition to a new Chinese leadership will take place in mid-October, a key player in the Bo Xilai affair has just been charged in Chengdu. The affair, the biggest scandal in the People’s Republic in decades, has all of the ingredients to derail plans for a “smooth transition”—but Communist authorities are doing everything in their power to ensure that it doesn’t.

Driving from the airport into the Dongcheng district of central Beijing last Saturday, I noticed the signs and signifiers of China’s economic heft were all present and accounted for—the glass and concrete towers of the financial institutions that act as the world’s bankers, the logos of the mining conglomerates that bring in the resources to fire the country’s (still) prodigious growth, the porticos of the luxury hotels where some of the planet’s biggest deals are negotiated and sealed. There were also, of course, the brutalist facades of the Chinese parastatals, which, like the ubiquitous black Audis of the party apparatchiks, signified that you were no longer in Kansas, Dorothy.

Read more >