News / Asia

    China Reacts to Gu Kailai Murder Charge

    Combination photograph shows Bo Xilai (L-R) as Chinese Minister of Commerce during a meeting in Beijing June 4, 2005; British businessman Neil Heywood at an Aston Martin dealership in Beijing May 26, 2010; and Gu Kailai, wife of China's former Chongqing M
    Combination photograph shows Bo Xilai (L-R) as Chinese Minister of Commerce during a meeting in Beijing June 4, 2005; British businessman Neil Heywood at an Aston Martin dealership in Beijing May 26, 2010; and Gu Kailai, wife of China's former Chongqing M
    Shannon Sant
    BEIJING – In China, the announcement of murder charges against the wife of one of China’s most prominent politicians left many unanswered questions about a case that remains highly sensitive.

    News of murder charges against Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai covered the front pages of Chinese newspapers Friday. Gu is charged with murdering British businessman, Neil Heywood. While news articles hail the trial as progress in establishing rule of law in China, Internet searches for Gu and her husband’s names remained blocked on Chinese microblogs.
     
    Censorship

    Bo Xilai's wife, Gu Kailai, is at the center of one of the most sensational scandals to rock China's Communist Party.

    • Did not dispute charges she murdered British businessman Neil Heywood
    • Charged with the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood
    • Worked as a successful lawyer before retiring as her husband's career took off
    • Wrote a book about her experience helping Chinese companies win a U.S. legal battle
    • Daughter of a prominent Communist leader
    Commenting was also disabled on Chinese websites that carried news of the charges, and analysts like David Kelly, director of the Beijing-based research firm China Policy, say the trial is not a step forward for rule of law, but rather an attempt to take down a politician who had fallen out of favor with China’s leadership. 
     
    “The trial itself is widely perceived to be politically motivated, to incriminate him by implication," Kelly said.
     
    Bo Xilai was a member of China’s Politburo and a rising political star.  The handsome politician was a so-called "princeling", the son of one of Mao Zedong’s top allies.  He quickly rose through the ranks of the Communist Party leadership as mayor of the northeastern city of Dalian; governor of Liaoning Province and positions in the Ministry of Commerce before taking over as Party Chief of Chongqing in 2007.  
     
    While his bold leadership style drew strong support from some quarters, there were also stories of corruption, including Bo’s alleged attempts to punish his political enemies and buy off Chinese scholars.
     
    Motivation
    Timeline of the Bo Xilai Scandal

    • Feb. 2:    Bo's key ally and Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun is demoted
    • Feb. 6:    Wang visits U.S. consulate in Chengdu, reportedly to seek asylum
    • Mar. 2:    Xinhua says Wang is under investigation
    • Mar. 9:    Bo defends himself and his wife, Gu Kailai, at a press conference at the National People's Congress
    • Mar.15:   Bo dismissed as Chongqing party chief
    • Mar. 26:  Britain asks China to investigate November death of Briton Neil Heywood in Chongqing
    • Apr. 10:  Bo suspended from Communist Party posts.  China says his wife is being investigated for Heywood's death
    • Apr. 17:  New York Times reports U.S. officials held Wang so he could be handed to Beijing authorities instead of local police.
    • Jul. 26:   Bo's wife, Gu kailai, charged with the murder of Briton Neil Heywood
    • August 9: Gu Kailai's trial begins in Hefei.

    Zhang Ming, a Professor at Renming University, says these stories may have also motivated the government to investigate Bo and his wife. 
     
    He says Bo Xilai has possibly violated many many regulations, he acted illegally so it was his existence that created a sense of insecurity to make people [in the leadership] feel uneasy and therefore unsafe. He says the fact that Bo Xilai’s actions will be dealt with makes the leadership feel safe.
     
    Chinese authorities have not implicated Bo Xilai in the murder of Heywood, 41, whose body was found in a Chongqing hotel room last fall.
     
    Details on Heywood and his relationship with the Bo family remain sketchy.  A report in China’s state news agency, Xinhua, quoted unnamed investigators who alleged that Gu poisoned Heywood after a business conflict involving her son.  At the time local police in Chongqing attributed Heywood’s death to alcohol poisoning, and his body was cremated before an autopsy could be performed. 
     
    Trial

    Kelly says that while the case may be meant to show the Chinese public that all people, including top government leaders are equal before the law in China, the trial may prove the opposite.   
     
    “The odds of a guilty finding are close to 100 percent, but the sentence is up for grabs and that’s because there is no rule of law here,”  Kelly said.
     
    He says Chinese legal scholars often refer to what they call "the hidden rules" of the Chinese judicial system. 
     
    “Law is used generally by the government basically as a tool of government," noted Kelly.  "Law is always stacked in the government’s favor and that is why it is called the hidden rules.  The hidden rule is that they will get you.  You can’t fight city hall in the old American saying because city hall has got all the cards and you have none.” 
     
    Chinese leaders will likely want the trial and investigation to be wrapped up before the leadership transition this fall.  
     
    He Baogang, Chair of International Studies at Australia’s Deakin University, says that transition is likely to be unaffected, but what may change is the public’s faith in the Chinese government. 
     
    “If the trial is more open then that may boost people’s confidence, but it is probably more likely that it will increase Chinese public skepticism of the rule of law, skepticism about this kind of judicial process,”  He said.
     
    Bo was removed from the Politburo after the murder investigation began, and some analysts say any charges brought against Bo will be light.  Manwhile Gu Kailai and an aide to the family will be tried for murder in regular criminal court.  Both face the death penalty.

     Reporter Victor Beattie also contributed to this story

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Hoa Minh Truong from: Gu Kailai murder charge
    July 30, 2012 9:25 PM
    China communist party likes a lizard changing skin, but its couldn't hide the lizard organ and the behavior. China communist lizard has changed skin color since a first visit of US president Richard Nixon in 1972, then the second largest communist bloc has used the western market, technology and money to develop, but the regime remained. As the communist strategy applied: Withdraw one step back in the low tide revolution to prepare 3 steps toward when he high tide of revolution coming.
    Whatever a lizard couldn't transform to dragon, likely China communist regime couldn't be capitalist, but the western state and US helped China growth those helped the most communist high ranking member become the Red Capitalist, despite the most population have not changed much the living condition, actually the rural areas, the peasant, a key of proletariat of communist success, they could be better than Mao Ste Tung era, but the communist working class escape their low income by moving to the city for factory job finding.
    China communist just has changed skin, but there is only communist party in government. The communist party couldn't hide the massacre of 65 million after Mao Ste Tung controlled inland since 1949, then the Tienanmen Square proved the crime of communist party. If China is not communist party, why does government ban Falun Gong while the most democratic country respect the free religion? Tibet people has no freedom, even religious worship.
    A case of blind man. Mr. Cheng Quangchen accused China has no change the communist dictatorial regime at all.
    Hoa Minh Truong.
    ( author and communist expert)

    by: frank yosso from: 11235 usa
    July 29, 2012 3:00 PM
    ancient romans killed off enemies by poison too...it was also used in europe in the middle ages...still used today by russia...its clean and effective and can be hard to prove...

    by: Hoa Minh Truong from: British killed by poison
    July 27, 2012 10:54 PM
    Killing by poison is the communist career, so the most potential enemy, including its communist member could be poisoned. In Vietnam war, after Geneva convention 1954, at north the communist regime called" the Democratic Republic of Vietnam" led by Ho Chi Minh who ordered a police chief, Mr Tran Quoc Hoan, who killed Mr Duong Bach Mai, a high ranking cadre by the discrimination policy between North and Southern background. Mr Duong Bach Mai died right at a meeting hall after drank a cup of tea.
    After 1975, Vietcong took over south Vietnam, a Catholic bishop of Hue diocese, Priest Nguyen Kim Dien who was killed by poison while being cured at the government hospital.
    A case of British business man, Mr. Neil Heywood killed by poison that is not special circumstance of the communist way. So people, actually the western state have to be aware when come to any communist country, the killing by poison could happen any where, even communist could send their agent to kill the enemy offshore.
    Hoa Minh Truong
    ( author of two books: The dark journey & Good Evening Vietnam)
    In Response

    by: A CHINESE CITIZEN
    July 30, 2012 11:43 AM
    Please note that the mainland China is not a communist coutry as would be falsly infered from the name of the party that rules it---the CHINA COUMMUNIST PARTY. After 30 years of open up policy, in a sense, we have turn out to be a reginal capitalist center in Asia.
    Accutally ,the CPC is nothing coummnist at all except for its name.
    I would rather label mainland CHINA as a authotarian capitalist country ruled by a authotarian and eliterian party that call it self "conmmunist"

    by: The_Observer from: Australia
    July 27, 2012 6:10 PM
    Years later it will probably be found that Neil Heywood was both helping Bo Xilai's family to siphon money overseas and working as a British MI6 agent. Heywood probably seduced Gu and when the time came to call in the chips the former attempted to blackmail the latter. That's when Gu killed Heywood. Bo Xilai then tried to cover it up by getting the Public Security Bureau chief of Chongqing, Wang, to cover it up. Wang, saw the hot potato for what it was and ran off to the American consulate. Since the CIA wasn't running the operation and not sure of the consequences they turfed Wang out. Wang was then taken to Beijing where he hasn't been heard from since, no doubt because he holds some of the answers
    In Response

    by: Ian from: USA
    July 30, 2012 12:35 AM
    I do smell a complete plot for a Hollywood movie a` la
    "RED CORNER" with Richard Gere & Bai Ling

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.