Bo Xilai: The downfall of a ‘princeling’
Former Chongqing Mayor Bo Xilai seemed destined for the top echelon of Chinese politics until his spectacular fall from grace last month.
Bo, the son of famed Communist Party figure Bo Yibo, made his name as leader of the port city of Dalian before taking over the western metropolis of Chongqing.
Ably abetted by his lawyer wife Gu Kailai, Bo’s four-year spell in charge of Chongqing was marked by his populist policies, a war on organized crime, welfare largesse for the poor and a return to veneration of Mao Zedong and China’s revolutionary era.
But the Bo fairytale started to unravel a few weeks ago when his crime-fighting police chief Wang Lijun attempted to defect at the US embassy in Chengdu.
Wang reportedly decided enough was enough when he discovered Bo’s wife was involved in the death of Neil Heywood, a UK business consultant and long term friend of the Bo’s, who was found dead in a Chongqing hotel room last year after allegedly falling out with them ‘over economic interests.’
Bo was suddenly deposed as party leader for Chongqing in March while Gu was arrested last week in connection with Heywood’s death. The ‘Chongqing model’ as Bo once proudly promoted would now appear to be defunct while a propaganda campaign is educating the public of the Bo’s various alleged abuses of power.
China observers have suggested Bo may have been the victim of a behind-the-scenes power struggle. Did Bo get what he deserved?