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.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
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?
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs