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Bo Xilai Still Admired Locally in China

Former China's Chonging Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai (r) and his wife Gu Kailai (file photo)
Former China's Chonging Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai (r) and his wife Gu Kailai (file photo)

Chinese state media are painting former Communist Party leader Bo Xilai as a fallen star, tainted by corruption and an allegedly murderous wife. But in Chongqing, the southwestern megalopolis he governed, the politician was often admired for overseeing impressive economic growth and city improvement projects.

The swift removal of Bo from his post, and his wife’s arrest for the alleged murder of a British citizen, have shocked many residents of Chongqing.

“The mood here is bafflement and surprise. The average people on the street tend to love him. People can’t stop talking about all the things they’ve done for the city. He’s made the streets safer. He’s made it better looking,” says VOA’s Stephanie Ho, reporting from Chongqing.

Chongqing boasted China’s fastest economic growth rate, 16.5 percent last year. As business development projects have sprung up across the city, low income housing has, too, gaining Bo favor with the poor.

“People in public housing had met him when he toured the complex, and they were still in awe of him because they felt like he connected with them,” says Ho, adding that Bo is unusual in China for a charisma more often seen in Western leaders like former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Despite the respect for Bo’s development projects, Ho says there is still widespread trust in the Central government’s decision. She reports that many people believe there must be a bigger political battle being fought behind the scenes.

Communist Party Central Committee officials have not detailed what violations Bo may have committed, saying only that he was suspected of involvement in “serious [party] discipline violations.”

The state-run China Daily newspaper on Thursday hinted at the charges to come, quoting Liu Lin, the deputy head of the Henan Provincial Corruption Prevention Bureau, as saying Bo’s investigation demonstrates the party’s “resolution and confidence in fighting corruption.”


His alleged graft would not be unusual in China, where officials smuggled about $127 billion out of the country in the two decades leading up to 2008, according to a report released last year by the Central Bank’s anti-money laundering bureau.

While allegations of corruption may be met with a shrug by Chinese citizens, murder is still a big deal.

Stephanie Ho says the homicide investigation of Bo’s wife Gu Kailai came at an opportune time for the Central government as it moves to distance Bo from its key leadership body ahead of a Party Congress meeting that will choose the country’s next generation of leaders.

Kailai, and an orderly in the Bo household, are being held by judicial authorities for suspicion in the November death of Neil Heywood, a British businessman with close ties to Bo’s family.

“For the central government to have this murder scandal come up if it is indeed true, is amazingly opportune, because that’s something that people can understand is bad,” says Ho. “Murder is bad. Whereas corruption is bad but everybody is corrupt here in the leadership. You can’t get to the top leadership without being somewhat corrupt.”

Kate Woodsome contributed to this report.

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by: ice
April 22, 2012 6:34 PM
The investigation of Bo is just a political game. He is just the weak part of the political war. Objectively, he is a good leader who do many things for average people, wherever he is in Dalian or Chongqing. He deserves respect from people. He is a good leader. I feel annoying that all the media in China not allowed to talk about his good behaviors.

by: Jonathan Huang
April 21, 2012 11:04 PM
I am glad to see section fights within CCP which is an evidence that China is not in dictatorship. There is conflict then there is compromise and balance. I dont know Bo, however what he did was not as bad as someone said downstairs. Most important, we need to try different ways and then find the best for us, no matter left or right or middle. I trust CCP can adjust her ideology and system to benefit our country! Majority Chinese believe it!

by: Nancy
April 21, 2012 8:13 PM
Stand with the CPC on Bo's case! It just shows that CPC has no tolerance for corruption.

by: Derek
April 20, 2012 5:34 AM
This scandal w/ Bo Xilai shows the Party has a lot of internal political infighting. The transition of power is not as smooth as the Party claims. There are factions w/i the Party struggle for dominance & Bo Xilai is a victim of that political struggle.

by: Jason
April 20, 2012 2:19 AM
Chongqing people are stupid, Singing RED songs everyday and absutely safe everywhere at any time. No commercials on the TV shows And no commercials on the street either? What is that? Where does the money come from to be used to do so many things? think about that! Unreality is abnormal. He deserves what he has got for what he had done!

by: David
April 19, 2012 9:30 PM
There are funny rumours circulating on the internet about the British gentleman also being a spy. Spying is a serious matter in Beijing , only recently, there was girl called 周玲曼 accused of passing espionage information to Russian KGB intelligence (her father was a spy). She has since been in hiding.

, Beijing

by: A BeijingMan
April 19, 2012 9:14 PM
before this February, no ordinary people talked privately about "state affairs" in public area. However, now you can easily hear their discussions about Bo xilai event almost everywhere in parks. As estimated from their dicussions, about 75% of ordinary people in China support Bo xilai because they hate so big gaps between poors and the richs, and complain the inflation. A few people love Hu and Wen. Almost all people dislike newspapers, such as People's daily, political articles.

by: MM
April 19, 2012 8:35 PM
The jounalist statisticed how many people to say that Bo is still admired? I am a Chinese, but I suppot the govenment to investigate Bo's family.

by: None
April 19, 2012 8:22 PM
politics is filthy, and this single piece of fact knows no boundaries.

by: jim
April 19, 2012 7:50 PM
most chinese actually trust the CPC. They complain about corrupt officials but they also recognize what the party has done to build china out of poverty and colonial domination.
sure every country needs changes- if we let chinese people figure out their system then they will. we need to change america- how many wars are we going to allow?
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