China’s Nagging Political Scandal Is Now a Murder Case

Adam Martin
The Atlantic Wire

Tuesday was a bad day for Chinese politician Bo Xilai and his family: First Bo was suspended from the 25-member Politburo that runs China, then his wife was reportedly arrested for the murder of a British businessman. It’s the end of Bo’s downward political spiral that’s been causing havoc among the Chinese leadership, and the beginning of a formal criminal case for his wife, Gu Kailai, who was arrested along with a family aide for the death of Neil Heywood, according to CNN. Heywood’s death was originally reported as alcohol poisoning, but Britain asked the Chinese government to re-investigate it as suspicions arose that a crime had been covered up.

Bo, who made a name for himself as the Communist Party chief of China’s Chongqing municipality, was stripped of that position last month (CNN’s Jaime FlorCruz has a good explainer of that situation). The rumors flying around Bo’s scandal created such a confusing tangle of information that at the end of March, foreign correspondents in China briefly thought there might have been a coup underway in Beijing.

Now that the matter has turned to a criminal case, the news remains murky…

The article continues at The Atlantic Wire.

Related: China may be entering a new era

There is a huge story going on in China right now. A very high official in the Politburo, named Bo Xilai has been purged, and his wife has been arrested. The story as reported is not the real one…

it’s very disturbing in terms of what it tells us about stability in China. Let’s remember, this is a country which is widely judged to be on its way to being the economic superpower of the 21st Century. It engaged in rapid expansion of its military to the extent that the Obama Administration felt obliged to station 2,500 Marines in Australia to, in effect, to stiffen the American presence in Asia against the rising power of China. So that’s the one thing, is how much can we trust this new China? The second thing is in terms of Chinese domestic politics. Bo Xilai, a very complicated story, and to all accounts, a very corrupt man, a man who has pocketed millions, sends his son off to a very expensive private education abroad, rumored, this boy, to at one point have been driving around Chongqing in a red Ferrari, presently enrolled at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. So Bo is a very complex character, because he’s also the tribune of those in China who say much of what has happened in the last 30 years has been a mistake, this get rich quick stuff, we’ve got to turn back the clock to the Cultural Revolution, we’ve got to get the state capitalism, get control of that. This free enterprise is out of hand. This is a determined, ambitious appeal to a larger constituency in China who have not benefited very much from all of the free marketeering of recent years. So almost any way you approach this, this is an event of momentous proportions...

Also, Why Social Media Meant China Couldn’t Lie About Bo Xilai Anymore

When the message appeared on the Weibo account of Xinhua, China’s official news agency on April 10, announcing charges against the family of high-profile party leader Bo Xilai, it ended many days of public speculation on China’s largest political crisis in decades.

But it also left Chinese web users even more deeply confused about the distinction between political truth and rumor, one that has always been hazy in China but is now blurred even more by social media…

…The government spokesmen stonewalled inquiries from the British government and told curious Chinese that Heywood died of “excessive drinking,” admonishing them “not to spread groundless rumor.”…

…”Why does the U.S. not censor rumors?” asked one Weibo user last November. “No matter how wild they are, nobody bans them, and the creators of rumors do not worry about getting arrested. Perhaps for places where truth persists, rumors have no harm. Only places that lack truth are fearful of rumors.”…

In Britain, The Telegraph writes, What we know so far and other articles about Mr. Heywood. One suggests he may have been poisoned with cyanide.

Update: Neil Heywood mystery: Gilded lifestyle of murder suspect’s son Bo Guagua. New pictures have cast a fascinating light on the privileged lifestyle and influential circle of friends surrounding the son of ousted Chinese Communist party leader Bo Xilai.

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