IN CHINA, they are calling it a “trial” of the former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai. He has been accused of corruption and abuse of power in a case involving a murder and shadowy struggles over wealth and power. While the proceedings are being held in a courthouse with defense lawyers and prosecutors, they are really just a show by which the Communist Party rulers are dealing with a disgraced member of their own club and trying to keep matters in check. That is the larger meaning of this spectacle — China is not a rule-of-law state and is at war with those who want it to be one.
In nations that genuinely respect the rule of law, not even the highest officials are above the law. But China has put its Communist Party above it, and the party often dictates to judges, prosecutors and police. The “trial” that opened Thursday has a riveting story line involving allegations of bribes taken by one of the party’s rising stars. On his first day in court, Mr. Bo was “surprisingly combative ,” as The Post reported, renouncing an earlier confession and denouncing the testimony of his wife that she routinely took bundles of cash out of the family safe. Whatever the spectacle, however, the verdict will be determined behind the curtain by party bigwigs.