News / Asia

    China’s Biggest Corruption Trial in Decades Remains a Mystery

    In a file picture taken on March 5, 2012, Chongqing mayor Bo Xilai attends the opening session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
    In a file picture taken on March 5, 2012, Chongqing mayor Bo Xilai attends the opening session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
    Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai could face trial in China in a matter of days or weeks. Although Bo’s case is one of China’s biggest political scandals in decades, very little is known about the crimes he is accused of committing. And legal analysts say it is unlikely that his trial will reveal more details.

    Bo Xilai vanished from the public limelight over a year ago.  The former Chongqing party chief was stripped of his official posts and kicked out of the party, following the revelation and later conviction of his wife in the murder of a British businessman.
     
    Police official Wang Lijun, Bo’s top enforcer, was also tried and found guilty of involvement in the murder. The scandal hit just as China was preparing for a once-in-a-decade leadership reshuffle.
     
    Now, a court in eastern Shandong province is preparing to try the former political star on three major crimes: bribery, abuse of power and corruption. Few other details were given, but that is not surprising, said He Jiahong, a legal scholar at Beijing’s Renmin University.
     
    “In China, the criminal trial stage is not very substantial," said He. "It's just a nominal proceeding of the whole proceeding to make a decision about the case. Especially for this kind of highly political cases, the decision has already been made, but then they have to go through the trial. This is not just the problem in Bo Xilai’s case, it’s kind of a feature of criminal trials in China now, especially political cases.”
     
    More details could be revealed during the trial, but it is unlikely the hearing will last long, said He.
     
    “I think that maybe just a couple of hours, or one day. I think two days are the most but it all depends on the defendant's attitude," he said. "I can only guess with my common sense that there should be witnesses, but they are just given the written testimony or records of the interview or questioning, so the public prosecutor will introduce the testimony or the evidence.”
     
    One possible key witness, legal analysts say, is one of China’s wealthiest businessmen, Xu Ming. Xu’s ties with Bo stretch back more than two decades and he was detained last year, just before Bo was removed from office.
     
    In 2010, Forbes estimated that Xu was worth $650 million.
     
    Political analyst Joseph Cheng of the City University of Hong Kong said it is unlikely the trial will reveal any substantial details about the network that aided Bo in his alleged corruption. The Bo case appears to be following the same familiar pattern of other high-ranking leaders accused of corruption, said Cheng

    “One, they all keep very quiet and acknowledge their guilt; two, they do not offer information on their superiors nor on their corruption networks; and three, they therefore get a fairly light sentence," he said.

    Official media have provided some details about Bo’s alleged crimes. Reports last year said that Bo had had sexual affairs with a number of women and that he used his family to funnel in bribes from others.
     
    State reports also said Bo abused his power and tried to cover up his wife’s murder of businessman Neil Heywood. Official accounts from the trial of Bo’s former enforcer, police official Wang Lijun, accuse Bo of beating Wang and stripping him of his post when he confronted Bo about his wife’s involvement in the murder.  
     
    Reports say Bo extorted as much as one million U.S. dollars and accepted bribes worth more than three million. His alleged crimes stretch back more than a decade, when he was mayor of the eastern coastal city of Dalian.
     
    The crimes Bo stands accused of could trigger the death penalty, but legal analysts say that is unlikely. He Bing, a legal scholar at Beijing’s China Political Science and Law University, predicts he will probably be punished with life in prison.
     
    "t is not likely that he will get the death penalty, because from Chen Liangyu to Chen Xitong on to other members of the politburo, they have never been given the death penalty.”
     
    China’s new leader Xi Jinping has pledged to crack down on corruption and go after both tigers and flies - high and low-ranking officials. But analysts say the fact that the case will likely reveal little information about corruption beyond Bo, highlights the weaknesses of China’s anti-corruption campaign and prosecution system.

    Legal scholar He Jiahong said the inability to tackle corruption is partly because senior officials remain largely beyond the reach of prosecutors while they are in office.
     
    “In other words their corruption, no matter is taking bribes or embezzlement, was discovered after they have committed that for ten years, or even more, maybe twenty years, one reason is because they were in power, so it would be difficult to discover those offenses, especially when they were holding the power in the locality, it would be very difficult for the local prosecutor or even the party disciplinary persons to discover the cases," he said.

    Cheng said that the inability to prosecute corrupt top officials is partly the result of China’s political system, where the Communist Party remains above the law. Even in Bo’s case, the senior political officials were consulted on the case’s merits and political impact before it goes to trial, said Cheng.

    “This is obviously a political case and the party's top leaders had to make the decisions, it was formerly reported that the Party Inspection Committee presented a report on the Bo Xilai case to the politburo and the politburo of the party made the final decision," he said. "The case then, goes to court.”
     
    While China’s President Xi has made fighting corruption a top priority, Cheng said Xi still has to consolidate his political power and authority within the party. That means he had to ensure he had a consensus among senior party members that Bo’s trial would not have an impact on factions within the party and the government’s overall stability.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.