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The Fall of Bo Xilai and the Future of Chinese Growth

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 29, 2012

MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

MARK RALSTON / AFP / GETTY IMAGES
Bo Xilai, the charismatic but controversial Communist Party leader of China’s Chongqing municipality, was removed from his post.

The fall of Bo Xilai, the former head of the Chinese Communist Party in the sprawling mid-Western city of Chongqing, is the stuff of movies.  A member of the party elite and supposed corruption fighter who was seen to have brought order to a Blade Runner-esque sprawl with a population the size of Belgium, Bo was not only poised to enter the top rungs of the Politburo this year, he was the first Chinese celebrity politician since Deng and Mao. In a country where the Party likes to speak with one voice, and tall poppies are often cut down, he stood out. He dressed well; he cultivated the media; he had his own one page Comment and Analysis piece in the Financial Times.

But in March, he was abruptly dismissed as the Party head of Chongqing, after his police chief, Wang Lijun, sought asylum in the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, a city several hours northwest of Chongqing. Wang had provided evidence of crimes allegedly involving Bo, according to reports in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, including murders carried out on his order. Wang also claimed that a dead British businessman, Neil Heywood, who was said to be close to Bo’s wife Gu Kailai, had been in a business dispute with her, and had been poisoned. Rather than being a tough-but-honest politician fighting corruption in China’s Wild West, a very different picture of Bo began to emerge — one of a man who his critics say was an entitled “princeling” (his father was Bo Yibo, a revolutionary general who had fought alongside Chairman Mao), and who was corrupt himself; someone willing to torture, frame, and even murder anyone who got in his way. Read the rest of this entry »

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