SODOM & GOMORRAH: It’s rare for me to support any (living) politician. A vast majority are corrupt, idiotic, and dishonest. In today’s age of modern bureaucracy, it’s very difficult for any political figure to make a real difference in a policy sense. China’s Bo Xilai was a rare exception.
In November 2011, I came out in favor of Bo Xilai, who was then the Committee Secretary for the Chingqing Province. Bo had been a popular figure in Chinese politics because he was one of the few members of the Communist Party who was willing to tackle corruption. Bo Xilai spent a good portion of his time as Committee Secretary fighting a campaign against China’s organized crime gangs. His fight against the mafia groups in China meant arresting and prosecuting party members who had been colluding with them.
Bo Xilai’s willingness to stand up to his peers in the party and his efforts at restoring confidence in the government’s ability to enforce order demonstrated that he was one of the few modern politicians to break existing trends of corruption and decay.
Bo was set to assume a top level position in China’s government, but it would seem that his bravery has made him many enemies.
The Wife of Caesar
The story actually begins in November 2011 when Chinese police found the dead body of British businessman Neil Heywood in a hotel room. Investigators concluded that Heywood died from drinking too much and the body was cremated.
In February 2012, Bo Xilai’s former police chief, Wang Lijun, attempted to flee to the US embassy. Wang told the Americans and Chinese officials that Heywood had been murdered and that the killer was Bo Xilai’s wife, Gu Kailai. Authorities reopened the case and discovered a link between Heywood and Gu, and the prosecution told the story that Gu killed Heywood after the businessman had allegedly threatened her son. She stood trial for all of one day. According to official media, which has since been repeated as truth by western press outlets, Gu Kailai “confessed” to killing Heywood. She was sentenced to death, but the order for execution was commuted. She is likely to serve a lengthy prison term instead.
Wang Xumei, a prominent Chinese forensics scientist, doubts the official story. The prosecution and Gu’s “confession” state that she killed Heywood with cyanide. According to the scientist, cyanide poisoning would have caused asphyxia, spasms, and a heart attack – as well as bright red skin. This would have been easy for officials to spot, especially when a simple test for cyanide poisoning is a common procedure when investigating death from an unknown cause in China. No cyanide report was given in court and there is no body to be examined. What we have is a “confession” along with an agreement from Gu Kailai’s family not to appeal the case because an appeal would mean severely limiting their ability to visit her while in prison.
Coercion at its finest.
Those in Glass Houses
What has followed since has been disgusting. Wang Lijun was charged and convicted on various counts of corruption. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Bo Xilai was expelled from the Communist Party, accused of a slew of sex and corruption crimes, and will face prosecution.
The press has uniformly condemned Bo Xilai. Time mockingly reports on Bo’s son defending his father against allegations of corruption with the headline “Daddy Dearest”. The Christian Science Monitor reports on Gu Kailai’s confession as if it happened and was witnessed by a CSM reporter, and not based on what Chinese press tells us that happened. Bloomberg pompously derides corruption in China. What has been witnessed is not a great purging of China’s ruling class of a corrupt layer of rising stars, but a political assassination of the first order.
It is far too odd for there to be no cyanide report, a quickly cremated body, a surprisingly convenient confession, a coerced agreement not to appeal the case, and a swift expulsion for Bo Xilai from the party just a couple months before they’re scheduled to select a new leadership group.
Bo Xilai’s family has been destroyed and he will likely serve prison time solely because he was the only politician in China with the courage to stand up to the corrupt elements in the party. The rise and subsequent fall of Bo Xilai is a testament to how putrid modern politics has become.