Page 1 of 2

Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:47 pm
by MinM
The real-life murder mystery unfolding at the highest ranks of the Chinese government—featuring, so far, homicide, MI6, poison, Party infighting, and a police chief whose hobby involves organ transplantation—is not only a political opera that makes Berlusconi’s antics look like community theatre. It’s also the largest Communist Party convulsion since the arrival of the Web, and the juxtaposition between Party orthodoxy and today’s information culture has laid bare a fault line in the future of “enlightened authoritarianism.”

Leninist systems are built on secrecy, on a monopoly on information to prevent the wrong ideas from leading the people down the improper path. Secrecy was easier to maintain during the last Party purge of this scale, in 1971, when Lin Biao, a military leader, died in a mysterious plane crash in Mongolia, after the failure of his purported coup against Chairman Mao. It was a year before the Chinese public heard a thing about it, and forty years later China scholars are still trying to figure out what happened in the Lin Biao Incident.

Not this time. After weeks of rumors and dogged foreign reporting, state media had no choice but to announce that Bo Xilai—a rising star and Party Secretary of the megacity Chongqing, who reminds me of Huey Long for his flamboyant, leftist way of wielding authority—has been stripped of his power and detained in an investigation. Even more stunning is the news that his wife, Gu Kailai, and the family’s housekeeper, Zhang Xiaojun, have been transferred to the police on suspicion of “intentional homicide” in the case of Neil Heywood, a British businessman who’d been friendly with the Bo family until—and it’s amazing that the government is acknowledging this—“a conflict over economic interests.” Heywood turned up dead in a Chongqing hotel, and his body was abruptly cremated; the cause was listed as “excessive alcohol consumption,” though friends said he barely drank. In late March, the British government asked China to investigate. Madame Gu, a high-flying lawyer and author, has gone from being compared to Jackie Kennedy to figuring in analogies to Lady Macbeth.

The Party is reeling. Even the Global Times, a nationalist state newspaper that can find a bright side to anything, is straining to argue that “the government did not cover up but initiated an investigation accordingly. This is no longer the era where China would rather cover up issues to avoid revealing problems.” That, of course, is preposterous, but maintaining the illusion of order is especially important right now to the leaders of the country because it’s campaign season. It is at moments like this that the Chinese Communist Party acts from the brain stem, not the cortex, issuing an editorial to tell people that “the Party does not tolerate any special member who is above the law.” (The flipside of that assertion—that everybody receives equal treatment under the law—especially thin this week, as a Chinese court sentences a disabled lawyer, Ni Yulan, who has been applauded for defending people evicted from their homes, to two years and eight months in prison for causing a disturbance and fraud.)

By Wednesday, the state was determined to maintain its monopoly over the Bo case by preventing discussion on social-networking sites. According to a splendid collection by China Digital Times, the following terms were censored:

Commission for Discipline Inspection, filed for investigation, investigate, Neil, British businessman, British housekeeper, Bo, Guagua [the son], Chongqing, King of the Southwest, Gu, Kailai, Wang Lijuan [the police chief], head nurse, Energetic Wang, Wang Li jun, wanglijun, WLJ, defect, U.S. consulate, Central Committee, usurp party leadership, political struggle, inner struggle

There are also more obscure terms being blocked, as censors and commentators battle over the code words people are using to discuss the case. An example: Chongqing hotpot = King of the Southwest = King Who Pacifies the West = Minister of Yu = tomato = Bo Xilai. So don’t go looking to talk about tomatoes today. (People still found a way around it, tweeting with the hashtag “big news” to stand in for the Bo case.)

All of this matters because it was precisely these kinds of “rumors” that the Party has been raging against in recent months, pressuring the country’s two large microblog operators, Sina and Tencent, to temporarily shut down comments earlier this month. The state media has been awash in denunciation of dangerous rumors, and earlier Tuesday, as Josh Chin points out, Chinese Web sites had vowed to “resolutely support and work with relevant government departments” in fighting their spread.

On Wednesday, a generation of young Chinese Web users awoke to discover, once again, that rumors had been more reliable than facts. All of this means it’s especially critical how the Party moves ahead on the Bo case: Will it openly discuss Bo’s alleged crimes? His connections to those still in power? The reasons that his wife appears to have had a foreign passport (a no-no for senior Chinese leaders’ families)? This is important because one of the curious facts is that, for all of Bo’s abuse of power and authority, his rhetoric about the working man had resonated with people. Michael Anti, the Chinese blogger and analyst, was surprised to find his Beijing cabbie denouncing the “shameless government” for “setting a trap for Bo Xilai” and “destroying a man who has helped the people.”

In the years after the financial crisis, commentators like Thomas Friedman had become impressed with Chinese governance: “One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.” Today, we’re seeing the limitations of that system in spectacular fashion. Boston University’s Joseph Fewsmith, a watcher of Chinese politics, told the Wall Street Journal,

The real question going forward is whether the new leadership that comes out in the fall can adopt up a reform agenda that answers the questions of the leftist supporters of Bo Xilai—the discontented and left behind. Can the new leaders define a reform agenda that is more inclusive?

Or maybe the question is whether they can define that reform agenda—and also solve a case of murder.

Photograph by Reuters/Stringer. ... china.html

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:38 pm
by MinM
Briton’s Wanderings Led Him to Heart of a Chinese Scandal
Published: April 11, 2012

BEIJING — At St. Mary’s Church in London’s Thames-side Battersea district, mourners who gathered for Neil Heywood’s memorial service a few days before Christmas were perplexed by the instructions laid down beforehand by one of Mr. Heywood’s classmates from Britain’s elite Harrow boarding school. He asked them not to approach Lulu Heywood, Mr. Heywood’s Chinese wife, and to remain in the pews until she and their two children had left the church.

The classmate’s eulogy made no mention of why a 41-year-old man in apparently good health had suddenly died. Nor could anyone ask the family.

“It was all very odd,” said one of those at the service, who, like many people connected with Mr. Heywood, asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivities surrounding the case. “There were a lot of questions, and a lot of tears. We’d all been to plenty of funerals, and none of us had ever been through anything quite like it.”

That now seems an understatement. Since Tuesday, when China’s Communist Party said that Gu Kailai, the wife of a suspended Politburo member, was under investigation for the “intentional homicide” of Mr. Heywood, all assumptions about his life in China are in doubt. The official account, still sketchy, says only that Ms. Gu and a household employee are suspected of murdering Mr. Heywood after he and Ms. Gu fell out over business dealings that have yet to be explained.

Mr. Heywood’s ties to Bo Xilai, the ousted Politburo member, and his wife and son — a relationship that set him apart from the scores of other foreigners seeking their fortunes in China — may have cost him his life and set off China’s biggest political scandal in a generation. But precisely why, or how, is no more clear than it was to the mourners who gathered last December.

After the police found Mr. Heywood’s body at a hotel in the southwestern city of Chongqing, officials told the British Consulate that he had died of alcohol poisoning. His family, who had been led to believe that he had died from a heart attack, says he was a teetotaler.

A maverick since his school days in England, Mr. Heywood appears to have met the Bo family in the northeastern city of Dalian, where he moved from Britain in the early 1990s and by some accounts taught English. He told one British journalist, Tom Reed, that he sent out a flurry of introductory letters to Chinese officials seeking a connection to the elite, and that Mr. Bo, then Dalian’s mayor, responded.

Mr. Bo and Ms. Gu, a charismatic and ambitious couple with a pedigree of influence from Mr. Bo’s ties to Mao Zedong, appear to have been looking for the same thing that many wealthy Chinese families are seeking — a path to a Western education for their child. Ms. Gu said in 2009 that she and Mr. Bo had picked the Harrow School for their son, but he initially failed to gain admittance. Mr. Heywood, a Harrow graduate, later told friends that he served as a “mentor” to the young man, Bo Guagua. Some who knew Mr. Heywood said he helped arrange Bo Guagua’s schooling in Britain.

Mr. Reed said that Mr. Heywood seemed genuinely fond of the young man and that the relationship appeared to be personal, not mercenary. But in disclosing that Ms. Gu is now the target of a homicide investigation, the Chinese government noted that both she and her son had some type of business relationship with Mr. Heywood and that a conflict had intensified before his death.

Speculation abounds about the nature of those business ties, with some suggesting that Mr. Heywood acted as a financial intermediary for the Bo family’s interests, including helping provide a way for them to pay for the son’s expensive education in Britain.

Whatever those ties were, Mr. Heywood appears to have become estranged from the family sometime in 2010. Mr. Reed, who dined with Mr. Heywood days before his death, said Mr. Heywood told him he had not seen Bo Xilai for about a year, and had only occasional contact with Bo Guagua, who is now a graduate student at Harvard. He said someone in Bo Xilai’s inner circle had become suspicious of Mr. Heywood’s influence with Mr. Bo, then party secretary of Chongqing, and had driven a wedge between them.

Mr. Heywood said the rift with such a powerful family had, at one point, caused him concern about his safety, even leading him to consider leaving China with his wife and children. But those worries seemed to have receded, Mr. Reed said, and Mr. Heywood appeared to have moved on to a life that no longer involved the Bo family.

In conversations about Mr. Heywood, friends depicted him as charming but elusive, and in some ways a contradictory character. He was, they said, outspoken in his pride in Britain, its imperial history, its monarchy and its culture, and he was contemptuous of socialism.

But he was a wanderer, too, and seemed drawn to the breezy, every-man-for-himself culture he found in the United States. After graduating from Harrow, he spent a year driving cross-country in a camper he named “the mule.”

Another year, a friend said, he worked in the crew aboard a yacht that crossed the Atlantic and ended up working for hourly wages at a small seaside business in Florida that made fishing nets. On his return to England, he reveled in stories of living rough in cheap hostels, keeping company with drug addicts and experiencing a side of life as far removed as possible from his cosseted days at Harrow.

If there is another clue to the intrigue that has enveloped Mr. Heywood in death, it might lie in what friends describe as his tendency to a Walter Mitty-like embrace of a fantasy life.

“The truth was, and he knew it, he was always going to be more Hugh Grant than Clint Eastwood,” the friend said.

It is not clear how long Mr. Heywood lived in Dalian, where he met his wife or when he moved on to Beijing, where he joined the horde of expatriate business consultants working to ride the Chinese economic wave by using their local contacts to smooth the way for foreign businesses. He taught his two children, George and Olivia, to sail on the Bohai Gulf off China’s northern coast and seemed devoted to his wife.

He earned enough to live at Le Leman Lake, one of the capital’s suburban gated communities, and to educate his children at the Chinese campus of Britain’s Dulwich College. The private intelligence firm Hakluyt, founded by former officials with MI6, the British secret intelligence service, said Mr. Heywood had occasionally worked as one of its associates, helping prepare due-diligence reports on Chinese companies for investors. That association, even if it had ended months before his death, inspired speculation that he was a spy, although an official with the Foreign Office in London effectively denied that.

He held a number of other jobs as well. He worked as an adviser to the Aston Martin car company in Beijing, and for several years he ran Heywood Boddington Associates, a consultancy for British businesses in China.

Some who met Mr. Heywood in China said they considered him as a dilettante who hid behind a screen of pretenses, and he was known for turning up in a rumpled suit of beige linen.

“He liked to give the air of having a secret hinterland, to give the impression that he might be an intelligence officer, that what he was up to was all hush-hush,” said one China analyst who met him several times. “But I came to the conclusion that the only thing that really sustained him was his connections to the Bos.”

Acquaintances said he was always careful not to disclose how precisely he was tied to the Bo family. And no one has explained why, after a yearlong estrangement from the Bos, he turned up last November in Chongqing, the provincial level metropolitan region where Bo Xilai presided as party chief.

At that time, Mr. Bo, who was angling for a seat on the nine-member Standing Committee, the Communist Party’s highest-ranking body, had been under investigation by China’s Commission for Discipline Inspection. His handpicked police chief, Wang Lijun, who sowed fear in the city with an unshackled crackdown on organized crime that won Mr. Bo national attention, was also under scrutiny.

According to one account, Mr. Wang was summoned to Beijing to give evidence against Mr. Bo that was then leaked or disclosed to Mr. Bo. That may have been what set off a high-stakes vendetta between the two men and Mr. Wang’s decision to seek refuge in an American consulate about 200 miles from Chongqing in early February, bearing information on the investigation into Mr. Heywood’s death — and the sensational accusations that Ms. Gu had plotted to poison him.

In the months since Mr. Heywood’s death, some of his friends have turned to Facebook, and one possibility they have raised, mostly to dismiss it, is that he was an agent for Britain’s secret intelligence service.

“That would have worked for him, in a strange way, the idea that he lived a life of intrigue,” one friend said. “I think most of us who knew Neil felt that the truth was probably much more mundane, and that whatever happened to him will turn out in the end to be the result of some kind of romantic venture, something that took him into a realm that others hadn’t been, that ended up getting out of hand.” ... h_20120412

BoX's backstory...

PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:48 pm
by MinM
Bo’s Ides of March
March 15, 2012

This morning, I had just started writing up a summary of the key takeaways from yesterday’s big press conference by Wen Jiabao, when Xinhua dropped the big bomb: Bo Xilai has been sacked from his post as Party boss of Chongqing, to be replaced by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang (no word yet on whether Bo will lose his positions on the Party Central Committee and Politburo). Since this is clearly the biggest news to come out of this year’s NPC, and the most dramatic development so far concerning China’s much-anticipated once-in-a-decade leadership transition later this year, I’m going to put my analysis of Wen’s appearance on hold for a day, and offer some thoughts on Bo’s downfall (which as Gady Epstein of The Economist noted, took place fittingly on the Ides of March) and what it might mean.

Bo first rose to international prominence when he served as China’s Commerce Minister from 2004 to 2007, a period of rapid economic growth and foreign investment. Before that, however, he had already attracted national attention as the long-serving mayor of the northeastern port city of Dalian (1993-2001) followed by a bump up to governor of that city’s province, Liaoning (2001-04), where he was widely credited with reviving a rust-belt region that had fallen on hard times. Considered a “prince among princelings” (children of high officials), Bo Xilai is the son of Bo Yibo, one of the “Eight Immortals” — the group of senior revolutionary veterans who served as the backbone of Deng Xiaoping’s support in the 1980s. In 2007, Bo was simultaneously appointed Communist Party Secretary in Chongqing (a position senior to the province’s governor) and a member of the Party’s 24-person national Politburo. Due to his age (he is currently 62), the Chongqing posting was seen as Bo’s last, best shot at propelling himself onto the 9-person Politburo Standing Committee, the pinnacle of political power in China.

Initially, Bo Xilai’s open, charismatic style — in sharp contrast to typically stiff Chinese technocrats — made him something of a darling with the foreign media and foreigners in general (a fact that did not necessarily do him any favors with his Chinese peers). He was perceived as a liberal (in the classical sense), heralding a more accessible and cosmopolitan way of conducting Chinese politics. He was China’s JFK, and Chongqing was his Camelot. Gradually, that perception began to shift. While many in the reform camp welcomed his crackdown on organized crime in Chongqing, they were also dismayed by the heavy-handed, authoritarian methods that were used — more like one gang (Bo’s and/or the Party’s) crushing its rivals than anything resembling “rule of law.” Then came Bo’s “red culture” campaign, with songs and slogans harkening back to Mao and the Cultural Revolution (despite the fact that Bo’s own family suffered greatly at the hands of the Red Guards). This was coupled with an emphasis on state-led investment and populist welfare projects, like state-funded housing, a program that came to be known as the “Chongqing Model.”

All of these developments kept Bo Xilai in the news, and attracted the ardent support of China’s “New Left” movement, including a motley assortment of neo-Maoists. But they alienated the reform camp, who began to see Bo as a dangerous demagogue. President Hu Jintao kept his distance, but his heir apparent, Xi Jinping, paid a visit to Chongqing where he appeared to bestow his public blessing on Bo’s endeavors. The betting, going into this year, was that Bo had a very good chance of making it onto the next Politburo Standing Committee, if only to keep him from making trouble.

In events such as today’s, the temptation is to look solely at the proximate (or immediate) cause. The proximate cause of Bo’s downfall was last month’s “Wang Lijun Incident,” where a top lieutenant of Bo’s, apparently under corruption investigation, sought refuge in the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu (near Chongqing, in southwest China) before leaving the consulate and being placed under arrest. The exact circumstances, and the extent of Bo’s involvement, still remain something of a mystery. But the important thing is, the incident cast a shadow on Bo, and that shadow fell on already fertile ground. Whatever the real truth of the incident, it became a weapon in the hands of his enemies. The real cause of Bo’s downfall were the distrust and resentment that gave rise to so many enemies.

And those enemies were powerful. It’s no coincidence that just days after the Wang Lijun Incident, prominent Chinese academics were coming out publicly, saying that Bo Xilai’s career and the entire “Chongqing Model” were finished — they wouldn’t have blast such a senior Party leader, a Politburo member, without protection and encouragement from very high up. It’s no coincidence, either, that He Guoqiang, the man in charge of internal Party discipline, greeted the Chongqing NPC delegation with a warning that “the current weather in Chongqing is very different from that in Beijing” and urged them to “mind their own health.”

So why did Bo make so many powerful enemies? I was pondering this question last night, as I was riding the Beijing subway home from appearing on CCTV News’ Dialogue show. Chatting off-camera, the group of well-informed Chinese experts who had gathered to comment on the close of the NPC were virtually unanimous in their belief — before today’s news was announced — that Bo was a cooked goose, his political career over. On the way home, I had my copy of Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes, the excellent new book by my friend James Palmer, about the Tangshan earthquake and the death of Mao in 1976, and had just reached the part where Mao’s immediate successor, Hua Guofeng, organizes a secret plot to arrest and neutralize the ultra-left-wing Gang of Four, led by Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing. Palmer notes that one reason the plot succeeded, and even leftist allies were quick to abandon Jiang, boiled down to personality. “In the small world of Chinese elite politics,” Palmer writes, “personality mattered.” Jiang Qing was an irritating person, and she was a woman. Either one made it highly desirable to be rid of her.

Clearly the liberal reform camp came to dislike Bo because they saw him as a demagogue and opposed the direction of his populist, statist economic policies. Critics pointed to hints of corruption, such as Bo’s son driving a red Ferrari. But for every liberal Bo alienated, he won (or bought) the devoted support of academics and activists on the New Left. And let’s face it — there are hundreds if not thousands of Chinese officials, a lot less powerful than Bo, with kids driving fancy sports cars they should never be able to afford (and occasionally running people over with them).

Bo’s real problem wasn’t liberal critics or sports cars or even turncoat lieutenants — although these became convenient nails in his coffin. Plenty of Chinese officials, snug in their patronage networks, have survived (or even shrugged off) far worse. The Party takes care of its own. But top Party leaders, regardless of political philosophy, had come to dislike Bo, not as a person per se — by all accounts, Bo is an extraordinarily charming man — but as a political persona, at least in his Chongqing incarnation, for three reasons:

First, they were offended by his courting of the media and his vigorous self-promotion, which showed a lack of appropriate deference and humility to established power channels and ways of resolving competition. Second, they felt threatened, because few of them were equipped to compete on this basis, if that’s what it took. Third, they were alarmed by Bo’s tactic of “mobilizing the masses” in ways that explicitly invoked the Cultural Revolution, which called up deep-seated fears that populist fervor could be used as a weapon against rival leaders within the Party — as indeed happened during the Cultural Revolution, to horrific results.

Earlier on Twitter, I asked “Cui bono? We know Bo Xilai lost, but who won? Who is Bo’s downfall a victory for?” The temptation is to say it’s a victory for the liberal reform camp since (as we’ve frequently heard say) Bo’s end spells the end of the Chongqing Model. I’m not so sure. In one sense, the Chongqing Model (including the “red culture” campaigns) was first and foremost a political vehicle for Bo Xilai to draw attention and support for his bid for the Standing Committee. In this respect, yes, it’s probably toast — and I suspect some of Bo’s pet projects (like Chongqing’s ambitious social housing scheme) will come under greater scrutiny and criticism in the days ahead, much as High-Speed Rail did in the wake of Liu Zhijun’s sacking last year.

But Bo’s “Chongqing Model” had the impact (and political benefit) that it did in large part because it tapped into trends that have much deeper roots and/or broader appeal than Bo himself. In the wake of China’s stimulus, the larger role of the state sector has made “guo jin min tui” (the state advances, the private sector retreats) a common refrain all across China, not just in Chongqing. President Hu (no friend of Bo’s) long ago defined social welfare and more even distribution of wealth as prominent themes during his term of office. These things didn’t start with Bo; in many respects, he just jumped on the bandwagon.

Take “social” (i.e., state-provided) housing. Putting Bo entirely aside for a moment, it seems the entire real estate industry in China, as well as markets in Hong Kong and around the world, are pinning huge hopes on the premise that massive Chinese government investment in “social housing” will be their salvation, countering an inevitable — and potentially dramatic — downturn in private housing construction this year. They need it to keep developers from going bust, and to keep GDP high. I think it’s a horrible idea, possibly a gigantic waste of resources and more likely a forlorn hope that won’t actually accomplish much. But the point is, its appeal has nothing to do with Bo Xilai’s political fate, even if he has made Chongqing the poster child of the effort.

If Chongqing were some kind of unique experiment, then the downfall of Bo Xilai might matter. But it isn’t. Like Ordos, or Hainan, or Wukan, or Wenzhou (the train crash or the financial crisis), it is an unusually pure instance of far broader trends that are prevalent, in more or less diluted form, all across China. And those trends will continue to unfold — for better or worse — with or without Bo Xilai as the Great Helmsman.

And with that, some final words, inspired by another ambitious man, brought down on the Ides of March:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.

- William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2

Cui bono?

[For those who just can't get enough of Bo, or are big fans of karaoke, check out "The Ballad of Bo Xilai" on Youtube (courtesy of Tania Branigan of The Guardian, via Twitter). The English lyrics are here. Strangely similar to the theme song from Wyatt Earp (a 1950s TV show about a sheriff in the Wild West)]. ... -of-march/

Clooney's Ides of March

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 8:08 am
by seemslikeadream

Rumours link Neil Heywood's China death to cyanide
By Michael Bristow BBC News, Beijing
Neil Heywood Briton Neil Heywood had lived in China for 10 years

There are unconfirmed rumours that a British businessman thought to have been murdered in China was poisoned.

The allegation appears to have come from a report on a Chinese-language website based outside the country.

The Chinese authorities have made no comment on the rumours.

However he died, the death of Neil Heywood has sent shockwaves through China's political establishment.

His death has been linked to the downfall of one of the country's most prominent politicians, Bo Xilai, and has undermined China's planning for a leadership reshuffle later this year.
Potassium cyanide

This is a new twist in a story which has precious few facts.

Boxun, a website based in the United States, claims that the British businessman Neil Heywood was poisoned with potassium cyanide.
File picture of Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai on 17 January, 2007 Bo Xilai's wife Gu Kailai has been linked to Heywood's murder

That rumour was repeated by people using Chinese micro-blogging sites and has been picked up by some Western newspapers.

Mr Heywood died in the city of Chongqing last November.

The British embassy and the Briton's family were told by the Chinese police that "excessive alcohol" was the cause.

They did not think the death was suspicious and Mr Heywood was cremated a few days after he died. A British diplomat was present.

But when several of Mr Heywood's friends raised their concerns about the death, the British government asked China to re-open the case.

They did, and on Tuesday announced that they now think he was murdered.
Prime suspect

So far, the police have not said publicly how they think Mr Heywood died. It is understood that they have not even told the British government about their findings.

But the authorities have revealed the startling news that the wife of one of the country's most popular politicians is a prime suspect.

Gu Kailai has been detained on suspicion of murder, together with her personal assistant. Her politician husband, Bo Xilai, has been stripped of his positions at the top of the ruling communist party.

The death has undermined the party's planning for a once-in-a-decade reshuffle in the Chinese Communist Party later this year.

Bo Xilai had been tipped for promotion before the latest developments.

The Chinese government has tried to downplay the connection between Mr Heywood's death and the political changes place in Beijing.

A commentary piece published by the state-run Xinhua news agency on Sunday said the death is being handled normally and should be treated without "fuss, not to mention excessive interpretation or bias".

"It has nothing to do with a so-called 'political struggle'," it went on.

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:57 am
by Ben D
Exclusive - Briton killed after threat to expose Chinese leader's wife - sources

By Chris Buckley

CHONGQING, China | Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:33am BST


British businessman Neil Heywood poses for a photograph at a gallery in Beijing, in this handout picture dated April 12, 2011.
Credit: REUTERS/

(Reuters) - The British businessman whose murder has sparked political upheaval in China was poisoned after he threatened to expose a plan by a Chinese leader's wife to move money abroad, two sources with knowledge of the police investigation said.

It was the first time a specific motive has been revealed for Neil Heywood's murder last November, a death which ended Chinese leader Bo Xilai's hopes of emerging as a top central leader and threw off balance the Communist Party's looming leadership succession.

Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, asked Heywood late last year to move a large sum of money abroad, and she became outraged when he demanded a larger cut of the money than she had expected due to the size of the transaction, the sources said.

She accused him of being greedy and hatched a plan to kill him after he said he could expose her dealings, one of the sources said, summarising the police case. Both sources have spoken to investigators in Chongqing, the southwestern Chinese city where Heywood was killed and where Bo had cast himself as a crime-fighting Communist Party leader.

Gu is in police custody on suspicion of committing or arranging Heywood's murder, though no details of the motive or the crime itself have been publicly released, other than a general comment from Chinese state media that he was killed after a financial dispute.

The sources have close ties to Chinese police and said they were given details of the investigation.

They said Heywood - formerly a close friend of Gu and who had been helping her with her overseas financial dealings - was killed after he threatened to expose what she was doing.

"Heywood told her that if she thought he was being too greedy, then he didn't need to become involved and wouldn't take a penny of the money, but he also said he could also expose it," the first source said.

The sources said police suspect the 41-year-old was poisoned by a drink. They did not know precisely where he died in Chongqing. But they and other sources with access to official information say they believe Heywood was killed at a secluded hilltop retreat, the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel, which is also marketed as the Lucky Holiday Hotel.

The sources said Gu and Heywood, who had lived in China since the early 1990s, shared a long and close personal relationship, but were not romantically involved.

The sources did not know details of the offshore transactions that Heywood facilitated for Gu, but said exposure of the deals would have imperilled her and her ambitious husband, who was campaigning for promotion to the top ranks of China's leadership. Bo has since been ousted over the scandal.

"After Gu Kailai found that Heywood wouldn't agree to go along and was even resisting with threats - that he could expose this money with unknown provenance - then that was a major risk to Gu Kailai and Bo Xilai," said the first source, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

It was not possible to get official confirmation of the case police are building against Gu. The Chinese government did not respond to faxed questions about the case. Some of Bo's leftist supporters have said the case could be a campaign to discredit him.

Gu, who is in custody and facing a possible death sentence for murder, and Bo could not be reached for comment. Bo has not been seen since appearing at parliament in March, when he held a news conference decrying the "filth" being poured on his family.

Efforts to contact Heywood's mother and sister at their homes in London were unsuccessful. The door to the mother's home carried a note saying she would not speak to reporters.


Heywood had spent his last week in Chongqing in Nan'an district, an area politically loyal to Bo, and stayed at two hotels: the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel and the Sheraton hotel.

Staff at each hotel said they knew nothing of a British man dying there. A guard was barring access to an apparently empty row of villas within the grounds of the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel on Sunday and Monday, saying a meeting was going on.

Heywood's falling-out with Gu followed a period in which she had grown distant from her ambitious, perpetually busy husband and she had turned to Heywood as a soulmate, sources said.

"Bo and Gu Kailai had not been a proper husband and wife for years ... Gu Kailai and Heywood had a deep personal relationship and she took the break between them deeply to heart," said Wang Kang, a well-connected Chongqing businessman who has learned some details of the case from Chinese officials.

"Her mentality was 'you betrayed me, and so I'll get my revenge'," Wang said in his office, decorated with pictures of himself meeting senior officials, including Bo's late father, the revolutionary veteran Bo Yibo, a comrade of Mao Zedong.

Heywood got to know the powerful family when Bo Xilai was mayor of Dalian in the 1990s. Heywood helped with getting the couple's son, Bo Guagua, into an exclusive British school, Harrow, said one of the sources with police contacts.

The scandal over Heywood's death broke in February when Bo's former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate after he had confronted Bo with allegations of Gu's involvement. He spent about 24 hours inside the consulate before he left into the hands of Chinese central government authorities.

Bo was stripped of all his party positions last week, ending his bid to join the upper echelons of the Chinese leadership at a Party Congress late this year, and opening the door to jockeying among rivals to get a place in the new lineup.

It was not immediately clear how Heywood would have helped Gu shift large sums of money offshore, though China's capital controls pose a formidable barrier to anyone trying to move large sums of yuan out of the country.

Chinese leaders' salaries are not extravagant and there have been questions about how Bo managed to fund the expensive Western schooling and lifestyle for his son, Bo Guagua, who also studied at Oxford university and is enrolled at Harvard. Bo said in March the schools were funded by scholarships.

The sources said there had been no sign of any dispute between Gu and Heywood until October and November when the argument over funds began. The lack of a paper trail made it difficult for police to determine how much money was involved, they added.

Police suspect Heywood took a poisoned drink, according to one of the sources, and died on November 15. Both sources said Gu was not present at the scene.

The sources said Heywood had stayed at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel, a secluded complex of rooms and villas in green hills overlooking Chongqing that Gu Kailai had visited in the past. Staff there said they had no knowledge of the death of a British man at the hotel in November.

(Additional reporting by William Maclean in LONDON and Benjamin Kang Lim in BEIJING; Editing by Brian Rhoads, Mark Bendeich and Dean Yates)

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:46 pm
by MinM
Given the MI6 angle this would seem to be the type of story that is right in the wheelhouse of the aangirfan blog. Instead there was a decidedly tardy and tepid response. One that relied on the debunked work of Seymour Hersh to justify brushing it off...
Bo and his wife are just like Jack and Jackie Kennedy.

Bo is part of a dynasty.

Bo Junior attended the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Reportedly, Bo has slept with more than 100 women, including TV presenters and models...

Bo has allegedly received very many millions in bribes.

Bo's 'friend', Neil Heywood, worked for a firm linked to MI6...

John F Kennedy became president of the USA in 1961.

Kennedy could be seen as both bad and mad.

Seymour Hersh sees Kennedy "as a sex maniac, marital cheat, bigamist, speed freak, liar and corrupt politician who employed in his covert service Mafia chiefs, panderers, Communist spies and political fixers and engaged in stealing national elections, shaking down corporations for contributions, plotting assassinations..." (Hersh's Dark Camelot)

Posted by Anon at 7:32 AM | Sunday, April 15, 2012


Anonymous said... ... other.html
11:35 AM
Anonymous said...
11:48 AM
CS said...

The link you provide to Edward Jay Epstein's Review of Seymour Hersh's book on Jack Kennedy not only repudiates many of Hersh's claims about Kennedy, but seriously impugn Hersh's reputation as an objective reporter.

5:37 PM

They also tend to be dismissive of the Secret Service story. This time using another CIA attached journalist Ronald Kessler...
Cartagena means child prostitution and drugs and AIDS.

Obama arrived in Cartagena in Colombia on 14 April 2012.

His secret service agents were in trouble, before his arrival.

Ronald Kessler, veteran journalist, broke the story in the Washington Post:

On a certain morning, police were called to the Hotel Caribe, in Cartagena.

A woman was angry after not being paid by one of the secret service agents.

She was banging on walls and doors in the hotel hallways.

"The agents had been drinking heavily before the president's arrival and had taken women back to their hotel."

The agents were sent home and replaced before Obama's arrival.

On 15 April 2012, Veterans Today writes of a possible plot to assassinate Obama.

"Assassination Columbia – What If It Ain't About Whores?" ...

However, Aangirfan is inclined to believe that the 'powers that be' want Obama to be re-elected.

Posted by Anon at 6:03 AM | Monday, April 16, 2012

Actually I tend to concur with that take.
*** ... opic=12815

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:02 am
by MinM
Obama was briefed immediately about death of British ex-pat Neil Heywood, whose 'killer may have had a plane blown out of the sky'

* The US president was told of alleged murder before foreign secretary William Hague
* Decision to inform president so soon after 'killing' is almost unprecedented
* Claims that murder suspect Gu Kailai ordered a plane to be blown up - killing 112 people
* The wife of rising Communist Party leader's political opponent was target of the explosion
* Chinese establishment is accused of cover up following the crash

By Hazel Knowles and Alex Gore

PUBLISHED: 08:16 EST, 22 April 2012 | UPDATED: 03:58 EST, 23 April 2012

US President Barack Obama was told of the alleged murder of British businessman Neil Heywood before foreign secretary William Hague.

The president was briefed about the 41-year-old's suspected poisoning within hours of Chinese police chief Wang Lijun walking into a US consulate to tell officials he was murdered.

The decision to inform the President so soon after the killing of a British citizen overseas so soon after it happened was described as 'almost unprecedented'.

John Tkacik, who worked for the US state department in China for 20 years told The Sunday Telegraph: 'This was a very high official with extraordinary intelligence.

'In all of my experience I can't recall its equal.'

Mr Heywood's former business partner and powerful lawyer Gu Kailai - wife of rising Communist leader Bo Xilai - is suspected of ordering his murder and is under arrest.

Last night it was claimed that the couple ordered a plane to be blown out of the sky in a bid to kill a rival politician's wife.

China Northern Airlines flight 6136 crashed into the sea by the port city of Dalian, where Bo was mayor, in May 2002.

The disaster killed 112 - including Li Yanfeng, wife of Han Xiaoguang, a wealthy hotelier and ally of Bo's political opponents.

Han was in jail at the time and Li was returning from Beijing with letters pleading for his release which were written by the daughters of Communist Party general secretary, Hu Jintao, and former president Li Xiannian.

Chinese journalist Jiang Weiping, who was being held with Han after accusing the Communist Party of embezzlement, told the Sunday Express details of the crash were covered up and the black box was never discovered... ... n-sky.html


Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:27 am
by seemslikeadream

Whenever I think of China I think of a bush

The return of Neil Bush
Even in the Great Recession, the dim bulb of a dynasty manages to cash in on the family name

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:42 pm
by MinM
It would appear that aangirfan is finally getting their rigor on with regards to this story... ... d.html?m=1

Plus a possible tie to the British Spy (Gareth Williams) found dead in the bathtub.
Given the MI6 angle this would seem to be the type of story that is right in the wheelhouse of the aangirfan blog. Instead there was a decidedly tardy and tepid response. One that relied on the debunked work of Seymour Hersh to justify brushing it off...
Bo and his wife are just like Jack and Jackie Kennedy.

Bo is part of a dynasty.

Bo Junior attended the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Reportedly, Bo has slept with more than 100 women, including TV presenters and models...

Bo has allegedly received very many millions in bribes.

Bo's 'friend', Neil Heywood, worked for a firm linked to MI6...

John F Kennedy became president of the USA in 1961.

Kennedy could be seen as both bad and mad.

Seymour Hersh sees Kennedy "as a sex maniac, marital cheat, bigamist, speed freak, liar and corrupt politician who employed in his covert service Mafia chiefs, panderers, Communist spies and political fixers and engaged in stealing national elections, shaking down corporations for contributions, plotting assassinations..." (Hersh's Dark Camelot)

Posted by Anon at 7:32 AM | Sunday, April 15, 2012


Anonymous said... ... other.html
11:35 AM
Anonymous said...
11:48 AM
CS said...

The link you provide to Edward Jay Epstein's Review of Seymour Hersh's book on Jack Kennedy not only repudiates many of Hersh's claims about Kennedy, but seriously impugn Hersh's reputation as an objective reporter.

5:37 PM

They also tend to be dismissive of the Secret Service story. This time using another CIA attached journalist Ronald Kessler...
Cartagena means child prostitution and drugs and AIDS.

Obama arrived in Cartagena in Colombia on 14 April 2012.

His secret service agents were in trouble, before his arrival.

Ronald Kessler, veteran journalist, broke the story in the Washington Post:

On a certain morning, police were called to the Hotel Caribe, in Cartagena.

A woman was angry after not being paid by one of the secret service agents.

She was banging on walls and doors in the hotel hallways.

"The agents had been drinking heavily before the president's arrival and had taken women back to their hotel."

The agents were sent home and replaced before Obama's arrival.

On 15 April 2012, Veterans Today writes of a possible plot to assassinate Obama.

"Assassination Columbia – What If It Ain't About Whores?" ...

However, Aangirfan is inclined to believe that the 'powers that be' want Obama to be re-elected.

Posted by Anon at 6:03 AM | Monday, April 16, 2012

Actually I tend to concur with that take.
*** ... opic=12815

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:19 am
by Ben D
Perhaps Bo himself was a CIA/MI6 mole..

From MinM post above...
US President Barack Obama was told of the alleged murder of British businessman Neil Heywood before foreign secretary William Hague.

The president was briefed about the 41-year-old's suspected poisoning within hours of Chinese police chief Wang Lijun walking into a US consulate to tell officials he was murdered.

The decision to inform the President so soon after the killing of a British citizen overseas so soon after it happened was described as 'almost unprecedented'.

John Tkacik, who worked for the US state department in China for 20 years told The Sunday Telegraph: 'This was a very high official with extraordinary intelligence.

'In all of my experience I can't recall its equal.'

Bo Xilai's officials bugged Chinese president's phone

New claims against former Communist party rising star add to list of scandals ranging from misconduct to murder

Staff and agencies in Beijing, Thursday 26 April 2012 06.40 BST

Bo Xilai and his British-educated son Bo Guagua. The elder Bo's officials in Chongqing are alleged to have bugged President Hu's phone. Photograph: Reuters

A wiretapping network run by Chongqing officials was detected on a phone call made to Chinese President Hu Jintao in August, a discovery that helped topple the city's ambitious party chief Bo Xilai, the New York Times has reported.

The report said nearly a dozen ources with Communist party ties had confirmed the case of wiretapping and the widespread bugging programme.

The party's official version of events omitted the tapped call by a visiting Chinese minister to Hu in August. If true the report confirms rumours of the incident that had spread since Bo's sacking in March.

The public case has focused on the suspicious death of British businessman Neil Heywood in November and allegations that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was involved. The case has upset China's carefully managed leadership transition.

"The hidden wiretapping, previously alluded to only in internal Communist pParty accounts of the scandal, appears to have provided another compelling reason for party leaders to turn on Mr Bo," the New York Times said.

There are varied versions of the rumours about alleged bugging by Bo, some of which have been reported by Chinese-language media in Hong Kong and abroad.

The New York Times story backs up earlier reporting by Reuters on the widespread, sophisticated bugging network in Chongqing set up by Bo and his former police chief Wang Lijun, as well as rumours about the tapped phone call made to Hu by a visiting anti-corruption official, minister of supervision Ma Wen.

Sources told Reuters the monitoring apparently helped Bo and Wang frustrate secretive investigations by central authorities, including a later visit by discipline inspection officials in January.

The New York Times quoted party insiders as saying the wiretapping was seen as a direct challenge to central authorities and just how far Bo, now sacked and under probe for disciplinary violations, was willing to go in his efforts to grasp power.

"Everyone across China is improving their systems for the purposes of maintaining stability," it quoted one official with a central government media outlet as saying in reference to surveillance tactics. "But not everyone dares to monitor party central leaders."

The Times said Ma's high-security phone line to Hu from the state guesthouse in Chongqing was monitored on Bo's orders and the topic of the call was unknown but probably not vital.

Bo had protected himself and Wang Lijun by explaining away the apparent bugging of the phone call between Ma and Hu as an accident, claiming that Chongqing's bugging equipment would sometimes latch on to calls not meant to be monitored, a source in Chongqing who often mixes with officials told Reuters.

It is unclear why the central authorities did not move to act more quickly against Bo, who as late as January appeared determined to win a place in the politburo standing committee, the party's highest decision-making council, and seemed to enjoy the support of some senior officials, including the domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang.

"The story about Ma Wen could be true but it also raises questions. It's very serious, so why wait?" a source in Beijing who knows Bo and other senior officials told Reuters.

"Wherever Bo Xilai was posted he never got along with his superiors," the source said. "That was true when he was mayor of Dalian, in Liaoning, in the Ministry of Commerce. He was always suspicious of his superiors."

Bo Xilai's immediate and extended family are increasingly being tainted by the scandal. On the same day as the New York Times story came to light, Bo Xilai's brother Bo Xiyong stepped down from the Hong Kong board of China Everbright International due to what the company called "possible adverse media reports ... on his family background" – an obvious reference to the scandals swirling around Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai.

The alleged lavish lifestyle of UK-educated Bo Guagua, son of Bo Xilai, came into focus again on Wednesday when the Guardian revealed that the domain name had been bought for £100,000 and registered to the same address as a company founded by his wealthy aunt.

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:17 pm
by MinM
Ben D wrote:Perhaps Bo himself was a CIA/MI6 mole...

This six year old ri post would seem to support that.
darkbeforedawn wrote:Actions Reveal Hidden Agenda to Mask Internal Crises in China

Gary Feuerberg / Epoch Times | August 28 2006

What does the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hope to gain by the arrest of prominent human rights attorney, Gao Zhisheng on August 15? Gao is well-known internationally, and even the U.S. Congress passed a resolution in April 2006 urging China to reinstate Gao's attorney license. It's a sure bet then that his arrest would arouse a lot of opposition and protest from high places.

Yet, Beijing defied public opinion and announced the arrest on August 18 in the state-controlled news agency, Xinhua, in an act sure to draw fire from both at home and abroad.

Observers of China from a variety of standpoints met on August 25 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to discuss the arrest of Gao to not only condemn it, but to try to understand the deeper meaning behind its timing and the manner in which it is being well-publicized by the CCP.

>A crackdown on Gao and other human rights activist attorneys would not appear to be in the best interests of the CCP. The CCP is working to improve its public image prior to the 17th Conference of the National People's Congress and the scheduled 2008 Olympic Games...

The Chinese airline pilot Yuan Sheng, who flew into Los Angeles on August 8 seeking asylum, supported this discussion of the deterioration of human rights by saying that returning to China would not only mean he would be persecuted, but that he would "disappear." He said that for his "crime" of talking to an airport worker about quitting the CCP, the police were "very rude and violent with me."

Morton Sklar sees an escalation of persecution in China with the defenders of human rights, China's lawyers, now under attack. He said the Chinese leaders are "turning their backse to the rule of law and any semblance of legality." Sklar said the United States is complicit in this escalation of human rights abuses. The U.S. "relies on China economically and politically," and needs China's vote on the UN Security Council where China has veto power on matters like Sudan, Lebanon, Iraq, North Korea, and Iran.

To prove his point, Attorney Sklar referred to his case against Minister of Commerce, Bo Xilai. The U.S. government came to the aid of Bo who is being sued for his "forced labor and persecution abuses" while he was Governor of Liaoning province (2001-2004) in China. The U.S. government is intervening in the case to argue that Bo Xilai has diplomatic immunity when the defendant is only a member of a "special delegation" on economic matters. "The U.S. government is pushing the law in an unlawful direction to support the CCP," said Sklar.

The consensus of the panel then is that the frequent complaints by the U.S. and free nations on human rights abuses in China are of no particular concern for Chinese leaders as long as they don't harm "business as usual" between the nations. The Chinese leaders are convinced that U.S. officials are not really serious about human rights, and so they don't worry about formal complaints such as Lawyer Gao's arrest and similar human rights complaints they receive.

Currently, the greatest threats to a continuation of "business as usual" and the CCP retaining its power are: (1) the persecution of Falun Gong and having the crime of organ harvesting of thousands of live practitioners coming to light; (2) the "Nine Commentaries" by the Epoch Times and the mass resignations from the CCP. The CCP wants to suppress the news of the organ harvesting crimes which is damaging to their public relations...

Based on this understanding on what the CCP fears the most, their motives become fully transparent. "Lawyer Gao's troubles started from his involvement on investigating the persecution of Falun Gong," said Epoch Times writer Tianliang Zhang. Gao praised the Nine Commentaries and quit the CCP and eloquently explained why he advocated quitting the CCP, "to make China peacefully transit to a free society."

Zhang produced a timeline of events which showed the escalation of surveillance and harassment of Lawyer Gao as he became more engaged with the two issues cited above. The surveillance began last October when he published his first study of a victim of the Falun Gong persecution.

The surveillance increased in December 2005 when he wrote of the barbaric tortures of Falun Gong practitioners in general. At the same time, he renounced the CCP, declaring it "the cruel, untrustworthy, inhumane, evil party." Later, when he met with UN Special Rapporteur on anti-torture investigator Manfred Nowak, CCP agents tried to crash his car to create a fake automobile accident. In the next three months, the CCP tried two times to assassinate Gao through fake motor vehicle accidents.

However, the conclusion of the panelists is that the timing of Gao's arrest was to take the focus away from airline pilot Yuan, who had defected a week earlier...


Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:43 am
by seemslikeadream
Cambodia says China requested arrest of Frenchman

By SOPHENG CHEANG, Associated Press – 19 minutes ago

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's government said Wednesday that China had asked it to arrest a Frenchman for possible involvement in a murder linked to one of China's biggest political scandals in years. But authorities said they would not extradite him unless China provides more evidence.

Cambodian authorities on Tuesday acknowledged they had arrested Patrick Devillers, but declined to say why. On Wednesday, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said China had requested Devillers' arrest because of possible involvement in the murder in China last November of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Kanharith gave no details of Devillers' alleged involvement, however, and said Cambodia was studying whether to extradite him.

Heywood had close ties to Bo Xilai, a Chinese political high-flier who was ousted as Communist Party chief of the Chinese city of Chongqing. But those ties had soured and Heywood's death led to the end of Bo's career.

Bo's fall came after his former police chief and longtime aide fled to a U.S. consulate and divulged suspicions that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was involved in Heywood's death. Bo was removed as Chongqing party secretary on March 15 and was suspended as a Politburo member amid questions over whether he tried to quash an investigation of his wife and a household employee over the Briton's death.

Though authorities in China initially said Heywood died from either excess drinking or a heart attack, they have since named Gu as a suspect. She faces criminal charges.

News reports have said that Devillers was closely linked to Bo, Gu and Heywood.

Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for Cambodia's Interior Ministry, also said China had asked Cambodia to arrest Devillers for possible involvement in Heywood's death.

But he said China must give more evidence before Cambodia will extradite him.

"We need more evidence, clear information from China, before we are going to make a decision," Khieu Sopheak said. "If there is no clear evidence from China, Devillers will be set free."

He said Cambodia could hold Devillers for up to 60 days before deciding whether to extradite him.

Eric Bosc, deputy to the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Tuesday that Devillers was arrested June 13 and that the reason remains unclear.

Kanharith said Devillers was living openly in Cambodia and was not in hiding. Devillers, an architect, had helped Bo rebuild the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian when Bo was the city's mayor in the 1990s, The New York Times reported last month.

The Frenchman and Gu were partners in setting up a company in Britain in 2000 to select European architects for Chinese projects and both gave the same address of an apartment in the English city of Bournemouth, the newspaper said.

It cited an unidentified friend of Devillers as saying the architect left China in 2005 and has been living in Cambodia more or less continuously for about six years.

China has considerable influence in Cambodia, having provided millions of dollars in aid over the past decade.

In 2009, Cambodia deported 20 members of the Uighur ethnic minority group who said they were fleeing ethnic violence in China's far west and wanted asylum.

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:26 am
by seemslikeadream
China Charges Wife of Bo Xilai in Killing of British Man
Published: July 26, 2012

BEIJING — Gu Kailai, the wife of the disgraced political leader Bo Xilai, has been charged with the intentional homicide of a British businessman, a crime that triggered China’s most serious political crisis in decades, the state media reported Thursday evening.

The official Xinhua news agency published a brief dispatch announcing that Ms. Gu and an aide employed by the family had been formally charged in the poisoning death of Neil Heywood, the 41-year-old Briton whose body was found in November in a hotel in Chongqing, the municipality in southwest China led by Mr. Bo until he was deposed by Communist Party leaders.

Although the announcement repeated earlier accusations that tied the murder of Mr. Heywood to “a conflict over economic interests,” it added fresh detail, saying that Ms. Gu committed the crime in order to protect her son, Bo Guagua. The article did not mention Mr. Bo’s full name, suggesting prosecutors have decided not to implicate him in the crime.

The announcement said no trial date had been set.

The authorities in Chongqing originally attributed Mr. Heywood’s death to excessive drinking, but a scandal unfolded after Wang Lijun, the city’s police chief and a trusted associate of the elder Mr. Bo, sought refuge in the American consulate in Chengdu, a city not far from Chongqing.

Mr. Wang stayed overnight, reportedly revealing details of the crime to consular officials. Mr. Wang, who was said to be fearful of Mr. Bo’s wrath, left the consulate in the custody of officials from Beijing. He remains in custody.

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:42 pm
by Wombaticus Rex
Read a sad piece in the NYT today about the (probably wholly fictionalized by crackers) Chinese tradition of throwing women under the bus -- which is, you know, startlingly different from our more enlightened misogyny.

Via: NY "T is for Truthiness"

BEIJING — In a nation that prefers the wives of political leaders to be bland adornments, Gu Kailai was positively fluorescent. Married to Bo Xilai, the Politburo member whose downfall earlier this year is still shaking the Communist Party, she reveled in her brash, ambitious ways.

Admirers bragged that Ms. Gu, a pioneering lawyer who spoke fluent English, was China’s answer to Jacqueline Onassis.

But in formally charging her on Thursday with the poisoning death late last year of a British businessman, the Chinese government, almost certainly intentionally, has placed the larger-than-life Ms. Gu into a familiar Chinese framework: the conniving, bloodthirsty vixen whose hunger for money derailed her husband’s promising career.

Although no one has presented any compelling evidence to rebut the official narrative that Ms. Gu, 53, played a role in the death of the businessman, many wonder if party leaders are using her case to deflect public disgust over the kind of corruption and abuse of power that critics say was embodied by her husband. Mr. Bo, who was suspended last April from the Politburo and has not been heard from since, has so far remained in a parallel justice system reserved for the party elite. His fate was not mentioned in the brief statement announcing his wife’s trial.

“Throughout Chinese history, whenever there’s a political struggle, whenever someone has to fall, they blame the wife,” said Hung Huang, the publisher of a fashion magazine whose own mother, Mao Zedong’s former English tutor, spent two years under house arrest after she was accused of collaborating with the Gang of Four.

Chinese history is sprinkled with tales of cunning women whose outsize ambitions led them — and sometimes the men in their lives — to ruination. Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife, took much of the blame for the calamitous decade of the Cultural Revolution, a point driven home in a televised show trial that electrified the nation. And Chinese schoolchildren can readily recite the crimes of Empress Dowager Cixi, who is portrayed as a rapacious, homicidal leader whose machinations helped topple the Qing dynasty.

It is unclear if Mr. Bo played a role in the death of the Briton, Neil Heywood, but his former police chief, Wang Lijun, and others have told authorities that he tried to obstruct the investigation. While word of Mr. Bo’s fate could come soon, leaving him out of the announcement of the charges suggests to some observers that he is not likely to be implicated in the most damning element of the scandal, as prosecutors are viewed as unlikely to hold separate trials related to the same death.

Susan L. Shirk, an expert on Chinese politics, said party officials might be reluctant to accuse Mr. Bo of participating in a cover-up of the murder, given his popularity among some ordinary Chinese and with an influential faction of the leadership.

“They have to handle this in a way that protects Bo Xilai’s reputation,” said Ms. Shirk, a former State Department official who teaches at the University of California, San Diego. “They don’t want all the dirty laundry of elite politics to be aired because they really don’t know the potential threat posed by Bo’s followers.”

The official Xinhua news agency disclosed Thursday evening that Ms. Gu would be tried in regular criminal court, along with an aide employed by the family, for the murder of Mr. Heywood, 41, whose body was found last November in a hotel in Chongqing, the sprawling municipality Mr. Bo led until his downfall.

“The facts of the two defendants’ crime are clear,” Xinhua said, “and the evidence is irrefutable and substantial.”

No date was set for the trial, however, which will take place in a city 800 miles from Chongqing. If found guilty, Ms. Gu could face the death penalty, though most party insiders predict she will go to jail instead.

While repeating earlier accusations that tied the murder to “a conflict over economic interests,” the announcement added two details: it confirmed that Mr. Heywood had been poisoned and it said that Ms. Gu committed the crime to protect her son, Bo Guagua, who recently graduated from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. It was unclear what Bo Guagua might have done to need protection from Mr. Heywood, but the announcement omitted her son’s full name, suggesting that prosecutors have decided not to implicate him in the crime.

In fact, the bulk of the guilt seems to be falling on Ms. Gu’s shoulders. The charges referred to her as “Bogu Kailai,” a name that combines her name with that of her husband. Some analysts have suggested that referring to her by a compound name, following an outdated tradition sometimes still used by Chinese who live outside mainland China, hints that she has or had foreign residency, violating the rules governing senior leaders and their families.

She also has other strikes against her. News media reports in China and elsewhere often referred to her as a gatekeeper to her husband, reaping substantial financial benefits. She had lived abroad and broke an unwritten rule by inviting foreigners into the family’s inner circle.

Whereas, of course, we Americans are so much more open and enlightened.

Sorry, onward:

One of those foreigners, Patrick Henri Devillers, a French architect who had worked for Mr. Bo during his tenure as the mayor of Dalian, arrived in China last week from Cambodia, where he had been arrested at the behest of Beijing. Mr. Devillers, who claims he returned here on his own volition, has told French officials that he is helping in the investigation of Ms. Gu.

The relationship between Mr. Heywood and one of China’s most fabled political families remains murky, the subject of considerable gossip and innuendo. But friends say he met Mr. Bo and Ms. Gu in Dalian in the 1990s and later helped arrange schooling in Britain for the couple’s son. Those with knowledge of the party’s investigation say he was also involved in helping the family transfer illicit funds overseas.

Like her husband, Ms. Gu is the offspring of a revolutionary hero, and like many “princelings” she experienced her share of hardship during the Cultural Revolution. Forced to fend for herself after her family was imprisoned, she worked for a time as a butcher and a bricklayer, according to accounts in the state news media. In the late 1970s, though, she was among the first batch of students to be admitted to college after the death of Mao.

“Courage is more important than wisdom,” she once wrote in a book that detailed her successful pursuit of a case in an American court that yielded a $1 million settlement. The book was something of a sensation and led to the creation of a popular television show whose protagonist — a comely, quick-witted legal crusader — was based on Ms. Gu.

Her legal practice flourished, thanks in part to the connections of her husband, who later became commerce minister.

“They were like royalty in Dalian,” said Edward O. Byrne, an American lawyer who helped Ms. Gu file her 1997 lawsuit in the United States and later spent time with the couple in China. “The people who worked for them would refer to them as the Kennedys of China.”

By most accounts, Ms. Gu was fiercely devoted to Bo Guagua, her only child. In 1998, she accompanied him to Britain, where he attended a private preparatory school, and later, the elite Harrow School, which was Mr. Heywood’s alma mater. According to Mr. Heywood’s friends, he was instrumental in helping the boy gain admission to Harrow, which charges annual tuition equivalent to $55,000. Ms. Gu spent at least two years in Britain, where she went by the name Horus, the Egyptian god of war.

Some of those who knew her during her time in the seaside resort town of Bournemouth recalled her as a mysterious businesswoman enamored with fine hotels and jewelry. But others described her as unpretentious.

Richard Starley, the landlord of her apartment in Bournemouth, said she used to practice her English with him over coffee. “She was the most gracious, nice lady you could meet,” he said. “I don’t think she could hurt a fly.”

Saying that about any woman is a wannabe compliment that winds up tasting like an insult. We are all quite capable monsters, thankyaverahmuch.

Re: Bo Xilai (China's JFK): Rumors of Murder in China

PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:57 pm
by MinM
Image @CBCNews: The Bo Xilai conviction, China's warning shot on the limits of populism: Patrick Brown

Seen publicly wearing handcuffs for the first time, Bo Xilai stood for a courtroom photograph with two extra-large policemen towering over him a few minutes after being sentenced to life imprisonment for corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power.

For the fallen politburo member, the self-satisfied grin seen in many court pictures was reduced to the ghost of an enigmatic smile, a hint, perhaps, that he believes, even now, that he can make a comeback one day, just as his father once did...

Twenty years ago, I went to the coastal city of Dalian to make a television profile of a man who seemed to be a new brand of politician in the age of China's massive economic reform. Then-mayor Bo Xilai was energetically trying to transform a fading provincial town into a mini-Singapore.

I spent time with him during an international fashion festival he had created, and watched him parading through the city in an open-topped limousine waving to the crowds.

Always wary of making predictions about China, I didn't report anything at the time that I can now smugly claim to be far-sighted. But I did note that, with his glad-handing, elegant suit and sharp haircut, Bo Xilai looked more like a campaigning American populist than a municipal official in a country that knew nothing of real campaigns and elections...

There is also little doubt that the man who actually did get that top job just under a year ago, President Xi Jinping, signed off on Bo's life sentence.

Moreover, the trial, verdict and sentence were endorsed not only by members of the current Politburo Standing Committee, but also by influential former leaders.

The establishment, in fact, began closing ranks against Bo back in 2007, when he was denied a plum job in the capital, which could have been a springboard to the next level, and sent off to run Chongqing, a western metropolis with province-level status.

As the once-in-a-decade leadership transition approached, Bo's relentless self-promotion, populist campaigns and naked ambition were already causing anxiety in a party that is obsessed with stability. The last straw came in February last year when Chongqing's eccentric police chief, Wang Lijun, fell out with his boss and sought refuge at the nearest U.S. consulate in Chengdu.

Refused asylum, partly because of serious human-rights abuses committed during Bo's crime-busting campaigns against local mafia, Wang surrendered to security officials from Beijing, and the skeletons began to tumble out of Bo's closet.

Wang revealed that he had covered up evidence that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who was involved in the tangled finances of Bo, his wife, and their son, Bo Guagua, who was already notorious in China for his profligate lifestyle at expensive schools and universities in Britain and America.

Not about openness

It is significant that the central government made little attempt to keep the lid on the scandal as it unravelled. Bo was quickly dismissed and, slowly but surely, he and his wife were arrested, charged, tried and given more severe sentences than many expected.

In the process, President Xi has neatly disposed of a potentially troublesome political force, and made a show of keeping a promise to punish "tigers as well as flies" — corrupt officials great and small.

As this morning's Peoples' Daily editorial puts it, "The resolute legal punishment of Bo Xilai fully demonstrates that there are no exceptions before party discipline and state law. No matter who is involved, they will all be investigated to the end and will all be punished."

Still, the charges against Bo were very carefully framed to focus on relatively modest ill-gotten gains. Fortunes in the hundreds of millions of dollars are commonplace among China's leading political families. But the Bos' trials were meticulously orchestrated to reveal such relatively minor perks as the family's French villa and access to private jets as proof of their exceptional venality.

Official trial reports included broadcast excerpts and frequent updates on the Chinese microblog known as Weibo, the equivalent of Twitter.

Ironically, even as the central authorities embraced the use of Weibo to spread its message about the trial, it has been making a sustained effort to rein in China's unruly online community of 600 million internet users.

In recent weeks, several internet celebrities, whose microblogs often have millions of subscribers, have been arrested or intimidated. Wang Gongquan, a venture capitalist who circulated a petition seeking the release of an activist law professor, has himself been charged with "organizing a mob to disturb public order."

Charles Xue, a wealthy Chinese-born American citizen with 12 million Weibo followers, was paraded on television confessing to consorting with prostitutes and admitting to being "irresponsible and egotistical" online.

Under new regulations, internet users posting what the government considers "rumours" can be punished not only for the content of their posts, but also for the numbers of people who read and spread them.

The Bo Xilai trial and its glimpses of the Communist Party aristocrats and their dirty laundry are not evidence of greater openness, but of a more sophisticated effort to manage information.

The scandal has coincided with an unprecedented wave of internet activism with private citizens defying the vast apparatus of censorship measures to expose the bad behaviour of countless lesser officials.

The party is warning them to stop, or join Bo Xilai behind bars. ... 90?cmp=rss

Image Businessweek ‏@BW: Bo Xilai is still defiant -- despite his life sentence in Chinese prison |