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Bo Xilai Saga: Former Police Chief Sentenced To 15 Years; Is Bo Next?

The trap is closing in on the popular ousted princeling and neo-Maoist Bo Xilai. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was sentenced to a suspended death penalty last month after confessing to the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Now, Bo’s former police chief Wang Lijun has been sentenced to 15 years in jail for abuse of power, taking bribes, bending the law for selfish ends, and defection.

Bo himself may be the next to catch punishment. Reuters has more:

The relatively mild sentence, following official confirmation that Wang shared incriminating clues and that Bo beat him after Wang confronted him over the murder allegations, added weight to predictions that the party will move to jail Bo too, said He Weifang, a law professor at Peking University who has closely followed the case.

“The legal net around Bo Xilai has been slowly tightening,” said He. “He’ll certainly face a criminal trial.”

But some analysts still think Bo might escape a criminal trial. His would-be prosecutors walk a tightrope as they prepare for Xi Jinping to take the helm, and public humiliation might enflame Bo’s supporters and cause domestic turmoil.

During the recent anti-Japanese protests, Bo supporters were seen carrying Mao signs. Bo’s policies of “singing red, striking black”—referring to the singing of Mao-era revolutionary songs, promoting income equality, and a harsh crackdown on get-rich-quick gangster capitalism—were highly popular in Chongqing where he held power, and Bo sympathizers remain a force on the Chinese street.

Bo’s flamboyance, populism and belief in Mao threatens to split the Communist Party.  It’s becoming clear that deep divides lie beneath China’s image of conformist unity. The upcoming transfer of power will be a serious test for the ruling party.

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