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Bo Xilai Suspended From Politburo; Wife Arrested For Murder

Regular readers know we have been closely following the Bo Xilai saga and its impact on the Chinese Communist Party. Having already been fired as mayor of Chongqing, Bo has now been suspended from the Politburo, the second most powerful body in China. To add further intrigue to an already charged atmosphere, Bo’s wife has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a British businessman late last year.

The businessman, Neil Heywood, was said to have close ties with Bo and his family, and much of his fortune was thought to be connected to his relationship with the Bos. Authorities originally claimed the cause of death was alcohol poisoning, and the body was cremated without an autopsy being performed. Now persistent suspicion that Heywood’s death was linked to a business deal gone wrong appears to have been confirmed by China’s state-run news agency.

Those suspicions were heightened after Bo’s former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February to seek asylum. Wang was turned away after thirty hours there, during which time he apparently told the Americans that Heywood had been poisoned. Soon after, the British Embassy officially requested to have the case re-opened.

All of this may sound like the thrilling opening to a spy novel, but the implications of the Bo scandal are profound. China is preparing for a once-in-a-decade leadership transition this fall, and it had hoped the handover would be calm. The Bo scandal punctures the façade of unity established by Party rulers and highlights ongoing power struggles in Beijing. How China deals with its greatest internal political challenge in a generation will be extraordinarily revealing.

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  • Anthony

    WRM, Bo Xilai saga reads below surface as power politics being executed at highest levels – “a feared enemy must be crushed completely.” To achieve ultimate victory, you must be ruthless (Napoleon Bonaparte)….

  • Luke Lea

    She shouted ‘Ah’ loudly, saying, ‘Falun Dafa is good.’ She said, ‘You killed me, one individual.’

    “Without anaesthetic, the live harvesting of human organs and selling them for money; is this something that a human could do?” Wen said at meeting of Party leaders, according to the source. “Things like this have happened for many years. We are about to retire, but it is still not resolved.”

    China hangs in the balance. I hope the Obama administration is making it clear that we will have no further truck with a government and a society that tolerates this. When has anything good come of doing business with other undemocratic world powers? The Germany of Kaiser Wilhelm? The Japan of Hirohito? This goes say beyond the issue of free trade.

  • Luke Lea

    More detail on that one horrific atrocity. This is not for the feint of heart but it does lay bare the nature of the forces in China that are now contending for power.

    To see where this is going I think we should keep an eye on Zhou Yongkang. He’s the head of the secret police — in fact all the police in China, nearly three million — and is the highest ranking official associated with Bo Xilai (not counting the Jiang Zemin, who has retired and is now reportedly on his death bed from natural causes).

  • Luke Lea

    More background. I have no way of knowing whether any of this is true — an assassination attempt against Hu Jintao in 2006? — but there is enough detail to make you wonder.

    References to Wen Jiabao’s chief bodyguard, deputy director of the Central Guard Regiment, Li Runtian” “as a spy for Bo — well, it is not too much to believe (when power is the final arbiter among ambitious men things like this are almost bound to happen) though which side to believe is another matter. I’m going with the Falun Gong side. The religious ones in other words. What does WRM think?

  • Luke Lea

    Here is some more “even-handed” background on the Chinese leadership (courtesy of WikiLeaks):

  • Luke Lea
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