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Defiant Bo Turns on Wife as Show Trial Continues

Bo Xilai kept up a feisty defense as his trial, the prosecution of the highest-ranking Communist Party official in decades, continued for a second day on Friday. After a video interview with Bo’s wife was played in which she detailed the shady purchase of a villa in France (she then transferred her shares to the businessman she later poisoned), Bo called her “crazy” and a “liar” and referred to a former business associate as a “mad dog.”

The prosecution was otherwise tightly controlled, but some media outlets have speculated that the trial is getting away from Communist Party officials who are seeking to stage-manage such a sensitive event. A German radio station reported that the trial was turning into “a movie director’s nightmare of managing a bullying actor.” But despite Bo’s proven ability to manipulate the media, this trial is far from out of hand. An approved micro-blog is the only official source of information from inside the court, and today state-controlled media launched a fusillade of articles that attacked Bo for rejecting the charges against him and insulted his personal character. “One never expected that a corrupt element could be so composed when standing in the dock and that a criminal could be so glib when faced with various crimes,” reads an article on the China Central Television website, according to the BBC.

In fact, as the Daily Beast suggests, the choreography appears to be going as smoothly as Party leaders expected. By letting Bo release a little steam, they’ve been able to publicize his rude comments toward his wife and further inflame petty personal squabbles with op-eds in official media. To China and the world, Bo and his wife appear unstable: their squabbles, the drama, a mysterious French villa, a British businessman poisoned to death, Bo’s comment that his wife likens herself to Jing Ke, a famous assassin—all this distracts onlookers’ attention from the other corrupt leaders in the Communist Party and erodes Bo’s personal popularity, which President Xi Jinping is keen to take for himself.

[Bo Xilai at the opening session of the National People’s Congress in March 2012, courtesy Getty Images.]

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