News / Asia

China’s Bo Xilai Denies Taking Bribes

Sacked Chinese Politician Denies Chargesi
X
August 22, 2013 7:26 PM
The trial of fallen political star Bo Xilai - one of China’s biggest political cases in decades - has begun in the eastern Chinese city of Jinan. During the first day of the trial, the former mayor and party chief of the city of Dalian fiercely contested the charges against him. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
TEXT SIZE - +
William Ide
— The trial of fallen political star Bo Xilai has begun in the eastern Chinese coastal city of Jinan - one of China’s biggest political cases in decades.  And while direct access to the hearing has been tightly controlled,  the Chinese public is being given an unprecedented look at the proceedings through the court’s Twitter-like microblog site online.

Most of the first day of Bo Xilai’s trial as seen through updates online was an intense back and forth between Bo and his lawyers and the prosecutors accusing him of corruption, bribes and abuse of power.

Millions of Chinese use microblogs and the court’s decision to take the trial live online was a rare example of openness, particularly for such a sensitive political case.

Rachel Lu is editor of Tea Leaf Nation, a website that monitors Chinese social media. She said that although the Jinan Intermediate Court’s microblog seemed like it would be boring when the trial started, it gradually became more and more interesting as lengthy transcripts of the trial were released along with photos and audio.

“Bo Xilai and his lawyers are basically disputing all of the evidence laid out against him, so everyone I think is a bit surprised where this is going,” said Lu.

Prosecutors said Bo used his wife, son and others to pocket more than $4 million in cash and property. A large portion of Thursday’s proceedings focused on allegations Bo accepted bribes from the head of a development corporation while serving as mayor and party chief of China’s northeastern city of Dalian.

Bo denies ever accepting any bribes. Unlike previous cases involving high-ranking officials, he appears to be digging in for a drawn out struggle over his charges.

Analysts, however, said that while he’s putting up a fight it’s likely that the final ruling in the case has already been decided.

  • A black minivan (behind silver Mercedes minivan) believed to be carrying disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai arrives at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court ahead of the fifth day of Bo's trial in Jinan, Shandong province, August 26, 2013. 
  • A policeman guards the entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, Shandong province, August 26, 2013. 
  • A minivan believed to be carrying disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai leaves the Jinan Intermediate People's Court after the end of the fifth day of Bo's trial in Jinan, Shandong province, August 26, 2013. 
  • A minivan (C) believed to be carrying disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai arrives at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court ahead of the fifth day of Bo's trial in Jinan, Shandong province, August 26, 2013. 
  • Bo Xilai leaves the Jinan Intermediate People's Court building in a vehicle in Jinan, Shandong province in this photo taken by Kyodo, August 23, 2013.
  • Gu Kailai is seen in a still image taken from an August 10, 2013 video provided by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, recorded at an unknown location and screened on August 23, 2013 during Bo Xilai's trial.
  • In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, disgraced politician Bo Xila is flanked by police officers during his trial at the court in eastern China's Shandong province, August 22, 2013.
  • A TV screen shows a news report of disgraced politician Bo Xilai standing in the courtroom, flanked by police guards at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in eastern China's Shandong province, in Hong Kong, August 22, 2013.
  • A man wearing a t-shirt with a picture of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong holds a fan with the words "Bo Xilai" near the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, August 22, 2013.
  • A supporter holds a placard during a rally behind a police barricade near the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, August 22, 2013. (Dongfang/VOA)
  • A woman protests outside the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.
  • Chinese police officers attempt to remove a woman protesting with the words "unjust" written on a banner outside the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, August 21, 2013. (Dongfang/VOA)
  • Chinese police officers march out of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan in eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.
  • Chinese police officers march out of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan in eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.
  • Chinese police officers march out of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan in eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.

Chinese state media said the trial would be wrapped up by Friday.

“I think the result will not be decided by a judge or by this court, it has been decided by the top leaders. So, it is only a show. It is more open than what we expected, but it is still a show,” said Michael Anti, a columnist and Chinese Internet watcher.

The hearing not only revealed fresh details about the corruption charges against Bo, but also indicated that a host of investigations against those involved, including Bo’s wife were also being pursued. Bo’s son was also listed as a recipient of bribes for his father, but court documents posted online did not say he was being investigated as well.

The indictment posted online said that in addition to the charges of corruption and bribe taking, Bo also abused power when he tried to block the investigation of his wife’s murder of a British businessman.

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
The exposure of the murder not only triggered Bo’s downfall, but also sent shockwaves through China’s political leadership at a time when the country was in the midst of once-in-a-decade leadership reshuffle.

Analysts said Chinese authorities were handling the case with extra care to ensure that the focus remained on Bo’s personal actions and not broader concerns about widespread corruption among Chinese officials.

Bo largely painted himself as a victim during the trial session on Thursday and said that he was unaware of the bribes he was accused of receiving.

In response to questions about corruption linked to his wife, Bo testified that for much of the past decade he and his wife were living apart. She was overseas as he gradually worked his way up from Dalian to Commerce Minister and party boss of Chongqing.

Rachel Lu said that the openness of the trial in part seemed to be a sign of authorities’ confidence about how the trial would work out.

“I think probably they want to make this a milestone in China’s legal development, trying to show the world that on this very important trial there is opening and transparency and that Bo Xilai is able to defend himself,” said Lu.

Foreign reporters were kept at a distance from the trial and most had to rely largely on the updates online. Officials said that of the more than 100 individuals who attended the hearing, 19 were journalists.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid