Chongqing, a conurbation with province status about the size of Austria, was, between 2007 and 2012, under the leadership of Party Secretary Bo Xilai, the site of a number of political practices—in housing, law enforcement, industrial development, public “red culture,” and others—that gave it the nickname “Red Chongqing” and made it a point of reference and admiration for many on the Chinese left. The “Chongqing Model” was for a few years a widely debated topic nationwide, but the fall and trial of Bo Xilai and his wife brought the model discourse to an abrupt end. This essay suggests that the enthusiastic embrace of the Chongqing Model—not a particularly radical path by most standards—allows for a diagnosis of the possibilities and impasses for left critical work in China today.

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