Thursday, Apr. 29, 2010

Bo Xilai

In an era of drab Chinese politicians, Bo Xilai stands out. The son of a Communist Party elder, Bo, 60, rose to prominence in the rust belt of northeast China, where he was mayor of Dalian and, later, governor of Liaoning province. After Hu Jintao was appointed President in 2003, Bo went to Beijing and served as commerce minister, which boosted the status of the tall, cosmopolitan official. But it was only after Bo was transferred to run the city of Chongqing, in southwest China, that he cemented his name as a leader. There he launched a crackdown on organized crime that has seen more than 3,000 suspects arrested, including the former chief of police. The city isn't alone in its problems with corruption, and Bo's campaign has earned him support from citizens around China. So far, Bo's crackdown hasn't spread to other parts of the country. But it could boost his chances of winning a seat on the Standing Committee of the Politburo, China's top governing body, in 2012.

TIME 100 Social-Networking Index: 621,436