News / Asia

Bo Xilai was Rising Star Before China Scandal

Bo Xilai, right and his son, Bo Guagua (2007 file photo)
Bo Xilai, right and his son, Bo Guagua (2007 file photo)
VOA News
Bo Xilai was once considered a rising star in Chinese politics. He was thought to be a top candidate for elevation to China's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee in November at the 18th Party Congress, which will pick a new generation of Chinese leaders.

But a political scandal that surfaced earlier this year derailed his career.

Timeline of the Bo Xilai Scandal

2012
  • February 2: Bo's key ally and Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun is demoted
  • February 6: Wang visits U.S. consulate in Chengdu
  • March 15: Bo dismissed as Chongqing party chief
  • March 26: Britain asks China to investigate November death of Briton Neil Heywood in Chongqing
  • April 10: Bo suspended from Communist Party posts. China says Gu is being investigated for Heywood's death
  • August 20: Gu given suspended death sentence after confessing to Heywood's murder
  • September 24: Wang convicted of defection, power abuse and bribe taking
  • September 28: Communist Party expels Bo


2013
  • July 25: Bo indicted for bribery, corruption, abuse of power
  • August 22: Bo trial begins in Jinan
  • September 22: Bo sentenced to life in prison
Bo was stripped from the top ranks of China's Communist Party when authorities became aware of allegations that his wife, Gu Kailai, was involved in the murder of a British businessman.  She is serving a suspended life sentence.

Bo joined the Communist Party in 1980 and ascended through the ranks, holding posts as mayor of Dailan, governor of Liaoning province and commerce minister.  In 2007, he was named leader of the southwestern city of Chongqing and rose to membership in the 25-member Politburo.

Bo gained prominence when he and police chief Wang Lijun launched a crackdown on corruption in Chongqing, resulting in the arrests and convictions of many officials.  Bo's tenure was marked by strong support for state-owned enterprises, and he led a revival of Mao-era cultural themes and slogans aimed at re-instilling a socialist spirit.

But Bo left a mixed legacy in Chongqing, with some saying his improvements there covered up deeper problems.

Bo was once heir to a political dynasty.  His father, Bo Yibo, was a founder of the People's Republic of China, and one of the eight leaders known as the "Eight Immortals."  The group steered Chinese politics away from the legacy of Mao Zedong to the market-oriented reforms that have transformed China into an economic powerhouse.

The younger Bo has not been seen or heard from in months.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Photo Gallery: Bo Xilai Scandal

  • In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, Bo Xilai is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.
  • A minivan believed to be carrying Bo Xilai arrives at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court ahead of the fifth day of Bo's trial, August 26, 2013. 
  • In this image taken from video, Bo Xilai addresses a court at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in eastern China's Shandong province, Aug. 24, 2013.
  • A woman protests outside the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.
  • Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, is seen in a still image taken from an August 10, 2013 video provided by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court.
  • Policemen are seen at a court building where the trial for Bo Xilai was held in Jinan, Shandong province.
  • Former police chief Wang Lijun speaks during a court hearing in Chengdu, China, in this still image taken from CCTV video, Sept. 18, 2012.
  • This video image taken from CCTV shows Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, being taken into the Intermediate People's Court in the eastern Chinese city Hefei, August 9, 2012.
  • Police officers stand guard at the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court for the murder trial of Gu Kailai, Anhui Province, China, August 9, 2012.
  • A  combonation photo showing Neil Heywood and Gu Kailai.
  • Bo Xilai, walks past Communist Party leaders at the National People's Congress in Beijing, March 9, 2012.
  • Bo Xilai, right and his son, Bo Guagua, 2007.

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