The Bo Xilai Affair
There is still no end in sight for the scandals surrounding Bo Xilai, the Chinese politician who was removed from his position as Committee Secretary of the Communist Party's Chongqing branch in March of this year, according to reports by the Washington Post and the BBC. The story around Bo involves the deceased British businessman Neil Heywood, Bo's wife Gu Kailai, and Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun.
Neil Heywood was a 41-year-old businessman from the Kensington area of London who was found dead in his room at the Lucky Hotel in Chongqing. The Communist Party has only officially said that Heywood may have been murdered. But the question of how exactly the man died has continued to plague the Party. It is believed that the Party used Heywood's death as an opportunity to remove Bo Xilai from power.
At the same time, rumors have cropped up that Gu Kailai, Bo Xilai's wife, was the one who ordered Heywood's death after she had a falling out with the British businessman, allegedly over a plan to move millions of Chinese yuan earned through corrupt practices out of China to bank accounts in other countries. The stories have become more damning as time passes, to the point where some suggest that Gu was present when cyanide was allegedly slipped into Heywood's drink. Whatever connection she may or may not have had to Neil Heywood's death, it is known that Gu Kailai collected bribe money for her husband.
Finally, there is an incident in February of this year when Wang Lijun, the Congqing police chief, entered the U.S. consulate building in the city of Chengdu. He apparently had documents that supported his allegations about Bo Xilai and his wife. After debriefing him, the U.S. State Department contacted senior Chinese officials in Beijing, who then came to Chengdu and promptly put Mr. Wang on an airplane to the capital city, where he is now in custody.
Of course, the kind of corruption we see in the case of Bo Xilai is by no means limited to the city of Chongqing. Across the country, “patronage networks” are in operation, where bribes are collected by the relatives of high party officials, by means of payments made to law and private equity firms. Even Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao, two of the most respected officials in China, are alleged to have family members who are guilty of these sort of acts.
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