News

    Mystery Death in China Prompts British Demands for Investigation

    Henry Ridgwell

    The death of British businessman Neil Heywood in the Chinese city of Chongqing has caused Beijing's biggest political scandal in years. The mystery surrounding the case has prompted calls in Britain for the government to press for a more thorough investigation. Analysts say there are deep political power games at play behind the scenes in China.

    Forty-one-year-old British businessman Neil Heywood was found dead in a hotel room in the city of Chongqing in November.

    He was close to the flamboyant Communist Party leader of the city, Bo Xilai. Police have arrested Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, on suspicion of poisoning. But few details have emerged from the case.

    The mystery has prompted calls from lawmakers in London to press Beijing for a deeper investigation.

    “We have asked for, we have demanded an investigation. The Chinese authorities have agreed to conduct such an investigation,” said William Hague, Britain’s foreign secretary:

    British Prime Minister David Cameron raised the issue with Li Changchun, a member of the Politburo’s powerful Standing Committee.

    Bo Xilai, the leader of Chongqing, had been widely expected to climb the ranks of the Communist Party. But his outspoken nature proved his downfall, says Professor Steve Tsang of the University of Nottingham.

    “The next leader of China, Xi Jinping, would not like somebody like Bo Xilai to be on his team of nine Politburo Standing Committee members. Somebody like Bo Xilai is an unguided missile who could hit you as much as he could hit your political opponents,” Tsang said.

    Chinese state media have suggested that Heywood became too entwined in the Bo family’s complex financial dealings.

    Tsang says the apparent silence of Neil Heywood’s relatives - and the fact they agreed to a quick cremation of his body - have deepened the mystery. “The reaction of the Heywood family back in the UK is certainly not the usual reactions one would expect of a middle class, well-off English family,” he said.

    Tsang says Bo Xilai had lost support within the Politburo.

    “For nearly two months, the Chinese government insisted that Mr. Heywood was not murdered. And on the date when the top leadership finally could reach an agreement to suspend Mr. Bo of his Politburo membership, that was the day we were told that Mr. Heywood was murdered, and Mrs. Bo was the prime suspect. It’s all politically driven,” Tsang said.

    Analysts say the timing of the scandal is difficult for Britain, as it tries to build closer trade and investment ties with China to help its ailing economy.

    In an earlier version of this story we incorrectly reported Bo Xilai was a member of the Politburo's Standing Committee. VOA regrets the error.

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora