Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai’s son has made an open appeal for his father just two days before he is set to face trial in a court in China. The letter from Bo Guagua was sent to The New York Times.
In a brief statement to the newspaper, Bo said he hopes that during the trial his father would be given the chance to answer his critics and defend himself without “constraints of any kind.”
Bo Xilai Bio Box
Bo Xilai is set to go on trial on Thursday, in the eastern coastal city of Jinan, on charges of corruption, abuse of power and for taking bribes.
His son’s statement said that for the past 18 months he has been denied contact with both of his parents, Bo Xilai and his mother Gu Kailai. He wrote that he can only assume the conditions of their “clandestine detention” and the adversities they have had to endure in solitude.
The letter to The New York Times said David Goodman, head of the University of Sydney’s China Studies Center, is more an appeal to audiences in the United States than those in China.
“Bo Guagua is a spoiled, rich boy and he's ended up by chance, as it happens in the [United] States when his family is facing political disgrace," noted Goodman. "So what does he do? He can't go back to China, somebody is presumably paying for him to go to Columbia [University], someone is presumably paying him one way or the other, whether it's his parents, offshore fund or something else, to keep him going in the [United] States.”
Bo is currently living in New York, where he is enrolled in law school at Columbia University.
Gu Kailai Bio Box
Since the political scandal involving his parents surfaced, his mother Gu Kailai has been convicted of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. His father has been in detention while authorities prepare for one of the biggest trials of a Communist Party official in decades.
In his letter, Bo said that if his own well-being has been traded in return for his father’s acceptance of charges against him and his mother’s cooperation, the verdict in the trial would carry no moral weight.
Media reports have suggested that Gu Kailai could appear as a witness against Bo Xilai in the trial this week in exchange for a guarantee of her son’s protection.
Bo Guagua also said that his mother suffered a “sudden collapse of her physical health in 2006” without elaborating. During her trial, Chinese state-backed media said Gu Kailai blamed her 2011 killing of Neil Heywood on a mental breakdown.
“He [Bo Guagua] says 2006, which is a bit like trying to plead for her not to have been found guilty of the murder of the man she claimed to have murdered," Goodman said. "That is before he was murdered, if he was murdered.”
Goodman added that there is really no way to know the truth about Heywood’s death unless authorities provide fuller access to information about Gu Kailai.
China’s state media announced the date for the trial on Sunday and have been playing up what it has called the open trial of Bo. No immediate mention of Bo’s letter to the Times was mentioned in Chinese media reports on Tuesday.
The New York Times is blocked in China. But, there were some comments to be found on social media sites, such as China’s Twitter-like Weibo service. Those that had not already been censored focused on Bo Guagua himself, raising questions about how he could afford his life overseas.
One weibo user wondered how Bo could afford to go to such a costly university as Columbia given that his mother is unemployed and father’s previous salary was less than $20,000 a year.
In the wake of the scandal, Bo Guagua’s privileged life overseas and playboy-like lifestyle has been widely discussed on social media sites in China. The opportunities children of high-ranking Chinese officials have overseas is a source of resentment among the general public in China and a frequent topic online.
Photo Gallery: The Bo Xilai Scandal
Photo Gallery: The Bo Xilai Scandal