Monday, 16 April 2012

Intrigue Around Bo Xilai Continues

As people in the media say, the Bo Xilai story continues to "have legs", in that new developments continue to surface by the day.

The latest now is confirmation that British businessman Neil Heywood was murdered by poison and the reason was because there was a dispute between him and Bo's wife Gu Kailai about transferring large sums of money abroad.

Apparently last year Gu asked Heywood to move large sums of money overseas and she became incensed when he demanded a larger cut of the money than she had expected due to the size of the transaction. There is no explanation of how he would have gotten the money out as China puts strict controls on how much money gets taken out of the country unless he had some kind of complicated banking arrangement.

And because he knew what was going on, he threatened to expose her and Bo, which became too big of a risk considering her husband's political ambitions and hence the alleged plot to kill Heywood.

One source said, "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."

It seems this veiled threat got Heywood into big trouble; one would think after 20 years of cultivating a good relationship with Gu and Bo that Heywood would not want to jeopardize it, or did he know too much and his overconfidence got the better of him?

The other new development was that while Gu and Heywood were not romantically linked, she did become closer to him when Bo was more focused on his work and career ambitions.

"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 learned details of the case from Chinese officials.

"Her mentality was, 'you betrayed me, and so I'll get my revenge'," Wang said.

There are also hints that Bo may be charged with corruption after Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to implement more anti-corruption measures. He was quoted in the Party's magazine, Seeking Truth, where he stressed anti-graft measures must be given a "more prominent position" in the government's work this year.

He said 2012 "is the last year of this government, and we must not be slack in our work. [We must] deepen reform and strengthen the construction of our system."

In the article Wen mentions such measures as deepening reforms in relation to the administrative approval system, marketization of public resources, the fiscal management system, administrative expenditure, and the general financial management of administrative bodies and state-owned enterprises.

With the publication of the article, analysts believe corruption charges will be brought against Bo.

"This, on the one hand, shows that if Bo is indeed found to be corrupt, he will be seriously dealt with," said Hu Xingdou, an economist with the Beijing University of Technology.

"But also, with high-level officials such as Bo falling from grace, people are increasingly finding officials untrustworthy."

Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, professor of political science at City University said the possible charge could be another strike at the leftists, whose idol has fallen from grace.

"The biggest criticisms by many old and new Maoists are the wealth gap and rampant corruption, since they believe that there was less corruption before reform," Cheng said. "But if Bo is found corrupt, this will be a blow to the leftists."

We wait with baited breath to see what happens tomorrow.

In the meantime things definitely do not look good for Bo and his wife. If convicted, she may face the death penalty for murder, and he will be completely demoted and perhaps even kicked out the party.

What of their son, Bo Guagua? Apparently he was allowed to visit his parents briefly and then curiously spirited out of the country again and back to Harvard where he is studying for his final exams next month.

Talk about being stressed out.

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