Striding across the stage, the men who aren’t there. ‘Faceless bureaucrats’, Westerners are wont to say, but these ‘suits’ are minus even more. China’s new Poliburo has no existence yet – no face, no body, neither legs nor feet, because, though overdue, the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hasn’t been convened; not while the stink of scandal lingers over Beijing like a London smog. Malodorous developments include: suspended death sentence meted out to murderous wife (Gu Kailai) of former Politburo-crat Bo Xilai (sentence commuted to life imprisonment for killing British business associate, Neil Heywood). Playboy son (Ling Gu) of close presidential adviser (Ling Jihua), presumed dead at the wheel; naked girls trapped and paralysed in the wreckage of his £250k Ferrari Spider. For Ling Jnr, a shadowy existence suspended between life and death: his death still not officially acknowledged, though he’s not been seen alive since the day of car crash, back in March; and his father has already been edged out of his top job. Not even the patronage of retiring president Hu Jintao could stop Ling Snr becoming a non-person. Hu’s likely successor, current vice-president Xi Jinping, recently affirmed his bodily existence by appearing at Beijing’s Agricultural University after two weeks hidden from public view, possibly as a result of a back injury. Xi boasts big hair. Like Elvis, he thinks, though with his small features the effect is more like Roy Orbison, laureate of the lonely. After a spate of suicides at Foxconn telecoms parts plants across China, earlier this year the Taiwanese corporation appointed counsellors to deal with acute loneliness among young migrant workers living in company owned, factory-dormitory towns – cockroach-infested dormitories, factories forensically clean as an autopsy table, or a Beijing courtroom. On Monday night (25/9/12), two thousand workers swapped their habitual loneliness for a collective, teenage rampage through Foxconn’s Taiyuan assembly plant, situated in China’s northern coalfields. Ten hours of life-affirming riot, eventually quelled by militarised police: the CCP’s Terrorcotta Army. Fleeing the police assault, Taiyuan’s rioters may even have found themselves – and each other. It’s the Politburo which is feeling lonely and insecure; right now, it still doesn’t exist.