Communist Party media seem to be playing a significant role in the factional struggle between supporters of the disgraced Bo Xilai and the Party leadership who oppose his so-called "leftist" policies. The role of Party media in supporting top Party officials such as outgoing leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, has become more apparent in recent days.
April 10th marked a dramatic step forward in the crackdown on Bo Xilai, and those in his circle of close allies. Intriguingly, Party media appeared to take a lead role in voicing support for the most recent moves against Bo, who still has a significant power base.
Official Party media announced that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had been placed under arrest and would be investigated over the murder of a British citizen. In a move that New Yorker magazine China analyst Evan Osnos called "shocking," the official report also clarified that the dispute giving rise to the murder had involved "a conflict of economic interests"—in other words implying that the Bo family was involved in extensive corruption.
Chinese mass media outlets are tightly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. So when high-level political content is mentioned, such content undergoes strict review by Party censors under the supervision of the Party's central leadership. This has played a major part in most China observer's analyses of the current political struggle.
After the April 10th announcement denouncing Bo Xilai, one after another, state official media expressed their support for the CCP's decision. One day later, People's Daily published an editorial commentary supporting the move, which was reprinted in the politically influential People's Liberation Army Daily on the same day. The Beijing Daily also published its own article with a similar tone from the one in the People's Daily.
These similar moves by major Party media outlets are in stark contrast to the days immediately following Bo's first targeting for Party discipline, on March 15th. In the days after the case first broke light, it was apparent that a high-level struggle was still ongoing over whether and to what degree Bo would be punished. While the two factions dueled over the case, few instructions were given to Party media over how to report it.
The Party-affiliated newspaper Global Times even took the unprecedented step of publishing an editorial in late March, pleading to Party leaders for reporting instructions. The People's Daily and other media directly under Party control were less vocal about their confusion—instead simply reporting very few details or analysis of the Bo case, in fear of making a political error. This has clearly changed in recent days, with direct statements such as the People's Daily assertion that "Bo Xilai's behavior is a serious violation of Party discipline," and Xinhua News Agency's reporting that "Comrade Bo Xilai is involved in a serious disciplinary offense."
So it seems as though the political struggle has been resolved as far as control of the media is concerned. It remains uncertain whether this step will mean the end of that struggle behind the scenes, or instead its intensification as the pro-Bo Xilai faction attempts to turn the tables.