News / Asia

    Experts Split on Bo Xilai's Fate

    Bo Xilai (March 11, 2012)
    Bo Xilai (March 11, 2012)
    VOA News
    A former Chinese police chief at the center of a major Communist Party political scandal has been charged with defection, taking bribes, and abuse of power.

    But experts are split on what the charges against Wang Lijun mean for Bo Xilai, the once-powerful ex-party boss whose career has seemingly been shattered by the crisis.

    The incident began in February, when Wang fled to the U.S. consulate in Chongqing to inform American diplomats that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was involved in the murder of a British businessman.

    Where's Bo?

    Timeline of the Bo Xilai Scandal

    • February 2: Bo's key ally and Chongqing police chief, Wang Lijun, is demoted.
    • February 6: Wang visits U.S. consulate in Chengdu, reportedly to seek asylum.
    • March 2: Xinhua reports Wang is under investigation.
    • March 9: Bo defends himself and his wife, Gu Kailai, at a press conference.
    • 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 Politburo and top Communist Party posts. China announces Gu is being investigated for Heywood's death.
    • July 26: Gu charged with Heywood's murder.
    • August 10: Four Chinese police go on trial for allegedly helping cover up the Heywood murder.
    • August 20: Gu given suspended death sentence after confessing to Heywood's murder.
    • September 18: Two day trial of Wang for defection and abuse of power ends without him contesting the charges.
       
    But while Bo's wife was convicted last month for the murder, Bo himself has not been heard from. Although he was stripped of his party posts and placed under investigation for unspecified "disciplinary violations," it is not clear whether he will face criminal charges.

    Some analysts expect the party to be lenient with Bo, pointing out that his name was not even mentioned during Gu's tightly orchestrated murder case or in the official charges against Wang. They say this suggests he will not be accused of direct involvement in the crime.

    But Bonnie Glaser, a China analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the silence about Bo could also mean Beijing has not yet made a decision on his future.

    "Bo Xilai's fate has not yet been determined," says Glaser. "It remains to be seen whether Bo Xilai will be charged, whether he will be charged in public, or whether he will just be dealt with through the parallel party system, and it is my guess that it will be the latter."

    Glaser points to the case of former Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang, who fell out of favor with the party following the Tiananmen Square protests. Zhao was dealt with internally and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. Glaser says Bo could receive the same fate.

    Possible punishment

    It is also unclear as to when Beijing will make any announcement regarding possible punishment for Bo. Glaser says it is in the interest of the Communist Party to wrap up the embarrassing scandal before a sensitive leadership transition later this year.

    "I think these are issues that the Chinese leadership would like to get out of the way prior to the opening of the 18th Party Congress, which now is likely to be in mid-October." she says, adding: "I think they will probably do so."

    Others are not so sure. International Studies Chairman Baogang He of Australia's Deakin University says he does not expect to hear much news on Bo's fate before the leadership transition.

    "They do have an incentive to try Bo Xilai before the 18th Party Congress," he says. "But it is probably unlikely."

    He adds that it is unlikely that Bo's trial would be conducted in private, saying this could undermine public confidence in China's legal system.

    Although there are more questions than answers surrounding the whole scandal, Chinese state media - when they have spoken on the sensitive topic - have put a positive spin on the controversy.

    An editorial in the Communist Party-controlled Global Times  newspaper said Thursday that the charges against Wang show a "certainty of justice," and declared that "the stir has already passed."

    • 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.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora