The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Did the Bo Family Kill James Bond?

Just when it looked like the Bo Xilai saga was finally over, a new wrinkle has emerged. New reports out of China claim that Neil Heywood, the British businessman whose apparent murder by Bo’s wife sparked the scandal, was suspected by the the Chinese Ministry of State Security of being a spy.

These suspicions may have been correct. Chinese security officials watch any foreigner who is good friends with such a powerful family extremely closely, and some sources say that Heywood also consistently met with an MI6 operative. MI6, unsurprisingly, has denied any association with Heywood.

The NY Times has more details:

Adding to questions about the importance of espionage in the case, friends said Mr. Heywood had become estranged from the powerful family in the year before his death in November 2011. He also openly cultivated the image of an inside operator, driving around Beijing in a sports car with “007” license plates. Mr. Heywood had done work for the private intelligence firm Hakluyt, founded by former officials with MI6, helping prepare due-diligence reports on Chinese companies for investors. That association had given rise to longstanding speculation that he was a spy.

Anything that makes the Bo story juicier is a headache for the Chinese government. On the other hand, these new revelations will tarnish Bo’s image with leftists and nationalists, who have been causing trouble for Beijing since his expulsion.

Chinese officials have done their best to sideline Bo before the upcoming leadership transition. But they can’t stop strange details like this from popping up and reminding the Chinese public of the secret lives of the party elite.

Published on November 7, 2012 7:00 pm