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Why The Bo Xilai Affair Isn't Just About China

Analysis: the ouster of Bo Xilai, one of China's most powerful political leaders, threatens to shake Beijing's domestic affairs. But the spectacular --and notably public-- fall from grace will reverberate around a world ever more influen

Bo Xilai's star seems to have disappeared from the galaxy of Chinese power for good. The heavyweight of Chongqing – one of China's top five mega-cities – was one of the best-known public figures in the country. He was a member of the Politburo, as well as a "princeling," an offspring of one of the heroes of the Chinese Revolution.

Bo never hid his ambition to achieve a place on the Standing Committee, the highest political institution in China that brings together the nine "emperors' who govern the country.

After two month of suspense during which no information escaped the thick walls of the Forbidden City, Bo's fall from grace has finally been made public. On April 10, he was suspended from all his Party duties and is now undergoing an investigation for "serious violations of discipline," otherwise known as corruption. Even worse, his wife, suspected of murdering a British national, has been handed over to the police.

Just six months before the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party – where seven of the nine positions on the Standing Committee will be elected, ushering in the next generation of leaders – this shadowy affair has revealed the true extent of the internal divisions within the Chinese leadership, and how much they could affect the future of the country.

"A serious political event..."

Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao who have been at the head of the party for 10 years certainly didn't expect to be handing over the reins at such an awkward moment. Their reign was expected to be one of "stability and harmony." And they have in fact helped China to become the second most powerful economy in the world, to recover its pride and power on the international stage and to realize, in 2008, its dream of organizing the Olympic Games.

As the regime hoped, many people believed that after Mao's dictatorship, the bloodshed of the Great Leap Forward and that of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, the Party had finally managed to establish a peaceful institutionalized process based on consensus for the handover of power within the country's leadership.

Brushing off the nagging question of political reform – how far the Party can go in relaxing its current stranglehold on power in order to promote economic and social development – those in power threw their weight behind these perceived steps forward. In doing so, they succeeded in convincing many Western observers, whose judgement is clouded by the impressive economic growth in China, of the progress being made.

But now, the fall of Bo is shaking everything. The People's Daily – a Chinese newspaper with close links to the government – has just admitted that it is "a serious political event, with negative consequences both inside and outside the country." In March, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao himself warned that "a historic tragedy like the Cultural Revolution could reoccur" if political and economic reforms are not implemented.

But there is one big difference between the Cultural Revolution and the current situation: Mao plunged his country into chaos with very little impact on the outside world. What is happening today inside the halls of power of the second biggest global economic power, on the other hand, threatens to have serious consequences for the rest of the planet as well.

Read more from Le Monde in French.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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