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Playboy death new wrinkle in China’s power shuffle

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Although Bo was a member of the party’s 25-member Politburo, which is just below the nine-member Standing Committee in power, he had alienated other leaders with a high-profile crackdown on corruption that even by China’s standards trampled on civil liberties. Many observers believe Bo’s wife’s criminal case was used by his opponents as an opportunity to purge him.

Regardless of the resulting power shifts, it’s clear that the government is very anxious about how the public will respond to another case of elites behaving badly and has imposed a strict ban on news and Internet posts related to the Ferrari crash. Such incidents have increasingly sparked public outrage in China.

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"There’s no doubt the authorities have been very concerned about the revolt, the backlash against the flaunting of privileges, whether its cars or expensive watches, those trappings of power and corruption," said Yang.

He said authorities are very careful to control the spread of such information so it "doesn’t stimulate more public anger against the elites."

Cheng noted that few Chinese know about the Ferrari accident and that, if they did, they might see at as too removed from their lives to worry about.

"If there’s a Ferrari (crash) case with naked girls in Beijing, well, this is juicy stuff. You get cynical, you feel resentment but you don’t do much. You don’t protest because it’s too far away."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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