News / Asia

Analysts Say Verdict in Gu Kailai Case a Foregone Conclusion

Sarah WilliamsVictor Beattie
The murder trial for Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, is reportedly set to begin Thursday in the Chinese city of Heifei.  Gu is charged in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, who was found dead in a Chongqing hotel last November.

Andrew Nathan, professor of political science at Columbia University and a China expert, says Chinese officials have indicated how the trial will unfold and that the outcome has been decided.

“Certainly in what they call ‘serious and complicated’ cases this is no secret that such cases are not decided by the hearing judge alone, but they’re decided by a committee inside the court in advance,” he said.  “It’s not a trial in a western sense.”

“They have already said that she confessed to the crime of murder, that it was involving some economic disagreement, and that she said she did it to protect her son," said Nathan. 

Nathan believes those are the kind of legally relevant points which suggest that she might get a sentence of life imprisonment or a death sentence with a two year reprieve.

The trial is closed to the public and foreign media, but two British officials have been given permission to observe the proceedings. Gu’s aide Zhang Xiaojun is also charged with Heywood’s murder.

Heywood met Bo and Gu during the 1990’s while Bo served as mayor of Dalian.  He helped the couple’s son, Bo Guagua, gain admittance to his own alma mater Harrow School and then to Oxford University. Gu lived in Britain for about two years while her son was in school there, and it is thought Heywood offered Gu financial advice. 

Heywood’s death was initially blamed on excessive alcohol consumption, and his body was quickly cremated. But in February, Wang Lijun, an aide to Bo Xilai, fled to the U. S. consulate in Chengdu and asked for protection. 

“You have a situation in which the public doesn’t know anything but the Chinese authorities know that the American authorities know something, so the Chinese authorities at that point really have no choice but to consider this information public, because at any time the Americans could have spread it,” said Nathan. 

“I’m sure the Americans told the British authorities what they knew about the fate of a British citizen, so in other words, it wasn’t public, but it was no longer secret either, so the Chinese hand was forced, they had to deal with it,” said Nathan.

The trial follows the ouster of Gu’s husband, Bo Xilai, from his powerful post as Communist Party chief of Chongqing.  It is not yet known whether Bo’s political fate has been determined by party leaders.

The son of a famous revolutionary leader, Bo had been considered a top contender for the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top decision-making body.  But his charisma and leftist policies such as evoking nostalgia for the Cultural Revolution angered some party officials.  Bo was stripped of his post and placed under investigation following Wang’s flight to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.

The scandal also impacted the party’s leadership transition.  Ken Dewoskin, director of Deloitte’s China Research and Insight Center in Beijing, said the Bo Xilai purge illustrates the factionalism within the Communist Party.

“It takes a lot of political wrangling to topple a top leader like that,” said Dewoskin. “Obviously he would have very strong support in the top echelons, a very large patronage network, a lot of people who trusted him, their resistance to purging him had to be overcome.” 

Andrew Nathan believes the Gu case is an offshoot of the larger Bo Xilai scandal. “The bigger power struggle was Bo’s enemies trying to find something on him, and they did, and so he is no longer a candidate for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee,“ he said.

The current meeting of senior party leaders at the Beidaihe resort also fanned speculation as to the direction of the party and the timing of the party congress, usually held in the fall. “Now the story is with this Beidaihe retreat that there is a consensus, that things are under control, that there is not a major fracture that the public has to worry about, that things will proceed normally,” said Dewoskin.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More