News

    China Strips Bo Xilai of Key Party Posts, Suspects Wife of Murder

    Bo Xilai walks past deserted seats after a plenary session of the National People's Congress in Beijing, China, March 9, 2012.
    Bo Xilai walks past deserted seats after a plenary session of the National People's Congress in Beijing, China, March 9, 2012.

    The controversy surrounding China’s disgraced senior Communist Party member Bo Xilai swirled anew Tuesday with news that he was stripped of all his party positions and that his wife, Gu Kailai, is under investigation in the suspected murder of a British businessman.

    Chinese state media reported late Tuesday that Bo was suspended from the party's 25-member Politburo and its 300-member Central Committee, on suspicion of "serious disciplinary violations."

    The two-line report by the Xinhua news agency was the first official mention that Bo was suspected of wrongdoing since he was removed from his post last month as Communist Party leader of the southwestern megacity of Chongqing.

    In a separate dispatch, Xinhua reported that Bo’s wife and an “orderly” in his home had been transferred to judicial authorities on “suspected crime of intentional homicide” in the death of Neil Heywood, a Briton believed to have had business ties to the family.

    Bo was removed from his post after his longtime police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate reportedly to seek asylum, triggering one of the biggest political scandals in decades, and a national campaign to silence online discussion of it.

    Listen to the full interview with Victor Shih

    Victor Shih, an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University specializing in Chinese politics, says the case shows cracks in China’s normally varnished image of unity, adding that this all suggests a power struggle behind the scenes.

    “At this point [it’s] not quite behind the scenes, a lot is happening in public,” he said. “There could me more signs of infighting going forward.”

    “This whole episode leading from the attempted defection of Wang Lijun to the U.S. really reveals that there are strong undercurrents in Chinese politics and the façade of unity that the Chinese leadership tries to portray to the world is just a façade,” said Shih.

    Chinese government censors immediately blacked out Internet searches for Bo and all topics related to his case, including rumors that Bo’s wife was linked to Heywood’s death.

    The attempts proved futile, and added to a growing storm of rumors flooding Chinese microblogs. The uproar prompted the British government to ask the Chinese government to investigate Heywood’s November death, which was initially ruled as alcohol poisoning. Heywood was cremated in December without an autopsy.

    Bo, the son of one of the Communist Party's "founding fathers," had been a member of the Politburo, the highest echelon of political power in China. He aspired to be named to the Standing Committee, the innermost circle within the Politburo, when new members are appointed during the 18th Communist Party Congress later this year.

    Political analysts believe Bo's populist governing style, which featured a return to leftist economic policies of the past, had set him apart from the relatively reform-minded party leaders who are expected to assume power in the coming months.

    “Bo was seen as a very ambitious politician in the sense that he was using various methods to undermine his enemies and to buy alliances with other factios,” said Shih.

    Shih said it remains to be seen if criminal charges will be brought against Bo and that in the past, when officials have fallen from grace, the party unified around the leadership,  the officials were removed and there really was nothing much more to the story.  But Shin says this case may be different.

    “Because of the princeling status [Bo] had and the wide connections he enjoyed, he and his allies may try to fight these indictments and push back somehow. And if that were the case, I think we will see some interesting developments going forward,” Shih said.

    Additional reporting by Ira Mellman.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Wangchuk
    April 13, 2012 6:36 AM
    This is how political fighting plays out in PRC. When Party officials lose a political fight w/ others, they are demoted, disciplined & arrested. It's only a matter of time for the Party arrests Bo for a corruption charge even though all Party leaders are corrupt.

    by: almoros idriss
    April 11, 2012 3:01 AM
    Great News for Great Changes ! Welcome China with great and bravest government with new and brightest policies parallel to China's advance and great developments!

    by: Eagle Kiss 1
    April 10, 2012 6:43 PM
    The wheel of history is crushing this guy. It is ironic to say, but a modern Chinese politician must have "Capitalist or Western" (business) ethics, such as honesty and humanity - not showing populism while killing his business partners. Even the Mafia is better than these "Red Capitalists."

    by: Jo
    April 10, 2012 5:36 PM
    Just a slight error:

    “At this point [it’s] not quite behind the scenes, a lot is happening in public,” he said. “There could "me" more signs of infighting going forward

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora