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June 27, 2017

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Bo's downfall a blow to China's leftists

BEIJING --Their spiritual godfather Bo Xilai has fallen from favor, their websites blocked and some microblog accounts have even been unplugged.

All is not well for China's leftists — a neo-conservative group of officials, intellectuals and retired cadres who yearn for a return to the Maoist days of stronger government control of society.

Their major websites, such as Utopia, Redchina and Maoflag, were inaccessible for days after the ouster of Bo, 62, as Chongqing party secretary last Thursday. Even after being restored on Monday, many links remained erratic.

Microblog accounts have been blocked, including that of prominent leftist scholar Sima Nan, as they bemoaned the fall of Bo as an "anti-revolutionary coup."

The shutdowns are signs, said observers, that the fortunes of this influential group are taking a sharp dip with the downfall of Bo.

"The blow is very big. If the Wang Lijun saga undermined the credibility of the leftists, Bo's fall meant the leftist movement has lost its strongest supporter and the best hope in the political establishment," said Chinese politics analyst Li Cheng from the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Bo was ditched in a surprise move more than a month after his Deputy Mayor and Police Chief Wang Lijun fled to the United States consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, allegedly in an audacious Cold War-style political defection attempt.

The pair had reportedly clashed over corruption and nepotism allegations involving Bo's relatives, and Wang is believed to have feared for his safety.

Until their split, Bo and Wang had been poster boys of the country's leftists, putting into practice in Chongqing what were previously only largely theoretical musings.

Dismayed with rampant corruption, rising income inequality and the marginalization of former Chairman Mao Zedong in politics, they hit out against China's reforms and "opening up" policy.

They proposed a return to Mao-era policies, which they believe are more egalitarian, more secure and less corrupt.

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