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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    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 Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    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 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 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.