BO XILAI: HIS LIFE, POLITICAL CAREER, FAMILY, RUTHLESSNESS AND CORRUPTION

BO XILAI

20111030-China org  bo xilaiboxilai now.jpg
Bo Xilai was one of the rising stars of the Communist Party. Named “Man of the Year” in 2009 in a People’s Daily poll, and the subject of a popular home video widely shown on the Internet, he was the top party official in Chongqing, China’s largest municipality, where he has won acclaim for cracking down on local organized crime and putting corrupt officials behind bars.

In 2007, Bo was appointed to the top job in Chongqing, a sprawling provincial-size city of almost 32,000 square miles—about the size of South Carolina—that before 1949 served as the wartime capital for the anti-Communist Nationalist regime.Keith B. Richburg and Andrew Higgins, wrote in the Washington Post: During his more than four years as the party chief in Chongqing, Bo—the son of an early revolutionary hero—had led a crackdown on crime and a revival of Mao-era patriotic songs and sloganeering while promoting an economic model that emphasized a more equitable distribution of wealth. His approach, known as the “Chongqing model,” attracted the support of modern-day Maoists and others critical of China’s growing income disparity. But Bo’s populism and his authoritarian manner—which prompted accusations that he and his security forces ignored laws and human rights in their anti-crime crusade—unnerved some central government leaders in Beijing. His “red revival” campaign also triggered unwelcome memories of the violence and chaos of Mao Zedong’s 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.[Source: Keith B. Richburg and Andrew Higgins, Washington Post. March 15, 2012]

TIME’s Hannah Beech wrote: “Bo is an extreme embodiment of some of modern China’s biggest contradictions. How does a man preside over a red-culture campaign that echoed the Cultural Revolution when his own mother died during that turbulent period? As China’s Commerce Minister from 2004 to “07, Bo negotiated trade deals with the West and impressed foreign envoys with his charm and colloquial English. His son, who attended Harrow and Oxford, has been spotted racing around in a red Ferrari. How could Bo arrive in Chongqing, China’s fastest-growing city, and suddenly spout iterations of Chairman Mao’s class-busting ideology? “Last May, I said on my blog that Bo Xilai wanted to become Mao Zedong,” Yang Fan, an economist who co-authored a book called The Chongqing Model Yang told TIME. “But he failed because in today’s China there is no need for a Mao.”

Up until his abrupt downfall in March 2012, Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times, “Mr. Bo was aiming for the pinnacle of Chinese political power, a seat on the nine-member Politburo’s Standing Committee, when the Communist Party’s leadership begins a generational turnover this autumn. He was a fixation for the news media and foreign leaders, the handsome convention-flouter who was breaking the calcified mold of China’s leadership caste. [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

Bo had been a member of China's 25-member Politburo, and had been considered a contender for one of the seven seats on the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee. Gillian Wong of Associated Press wrote: “Bo rode to nationwide fame by leading an anti-mafia crusade and mass sing-alongs of communist anthems in Chongqing, and by implementing populist policies that made him beloved with his region's poor. But his publicity-seeking ways angered leaders who were wary of any revival of the personality cult, chaos and bloodshed of the Mao Zedong era. In Dalian, he was credited with turning around the economy, developing parks and museums, and creating an equestrian police troop of attractive young women. In Chongqing, he endeared himself to many older Chinese with a Maoist revival that encouraged people to sing "red songs" and embrace Communist values. [Source: Gillian Wong, Associated Press, August 20, 2013]

Bo Xilai’s Character

Bo was a telegenic self-promoter who spoke passable English. He was widely lauded in China and abroad. He dressed sharply and has a flair for the dramatic. His directness and independent streak impressed foreigners but annoyed peers, who prefer to rule through backdoor consensus and often stilted slogans. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited him in Chongqing in 2011.

Arian Eunjung Cha wrote in the Washington Post, “Charismatic, handsome and majestically tall, by Chinese standards at 6-foot-1, Bo has become a poster child for China's princelings. “While other senior-level officials tend to be shy and awkward in dealing with the public and the media, Bo has managed to charm everybody. He has led crowds of thousands in sing-alongs of “red culture” songs, sat down for TV chats with protesting workers and communicated with students via mass text messages.” Many regard him as too controversial and too populist to be president or premier but he stands a good chance to made it into the Communist Party’s nine-member Standing Committee.

Bo was accused of being more concerned with his own rise than China's. "I didn't trust Bo Xilai because he seemed so liberal in so many of his positions, and then all of a sudden became this leftist nationalist when he moved to Chongqing," David Zweig, a China scholar at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, told Reuters. "I think that surprised people and suggests that he was much more of a chameleon than dedicated to a particular set of policies."

John Garnaut wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald, Bo's methods were not pretty but they certainly worked. His control over propaganda, ability to mobilise the masses, and disregard for legal process and institutions kept the Chongqing population in check. He's trying to mobilise society like Mao did during the Cultural Revolution and, to do that, you usually have to brainwash people first,” said Wang, the Caijing publisher, in an interview last year. Bo's resurrection of Maoist iconography and methods offered a way of preserving the power of the ruling families, in a post-communist nation that was growing more cynical and fractious by the day. Source: John Garnaut. Sydney Morning Herald, August 22, 2013. John Garnaut is the author of “The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo”. *=*]

Bo Xilai’s Family

Bo is the second oldest son of Bo Yibo, one of a group of Communist Party officially known as the Eight Immortals. Bo Yibo was one of Mao’s most trusted associates before being purged in the Cultural Revolution for supporting economic reforms and closer ties with the West. In 1966, he was paraded through Beijing's Workers' Stadium by Red Guards and is said to have shouted: "I am not a traitor! I am a member of the Communist Party!" The whole family was sent to a prison for five years, then to a labor camp for another five. Bo Xilai's mother is believed to have either committed suicide or have been murdered or beaten to death by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution.

Bo Yibo spent time in jail both before and after the 1949 revolution.He was rehabilitated by Deng Xiaoping and restored to his position as vice premier. Bo Xilai prospered during this period, attaining a degree in history at Peking University and working at the prestigious Chinese Academy of Social Science. As party leader in Chongqing he has won praise for the way he handled strikes by taxi drivers, teachers and police. He ended the taxi driver striker by inviting representatives of the drivers to a forum broadcast on state television. He has won brownie points in the party for his “Red Culture Campaign” to reform social gathering to read and study Mao’s works.

Bo Yibo played a prominent role in lobbying for a crackdown on the student protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The fall of his son, Bo Xilai, fueled speculation that more liberal-minded leaders, such as Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who worked alongside Zhao, want to revise the official verdict on those events. Bo Yibo died in 2007.

Gu Kailai is Bo's second wife. She studied law and international politics and after graduation founded the Kailai law firm. The couple has a son, Guagua, who was educated at two private boarding schools in Britain, including Harrow, where Winston Churchill and other famous people went, followed by Oxford University, where he won a reputation for partying. He is now at Harvard University.

Bo's brother Bo Xiyong resigned in April after reports that, going by the name Li Xueming, he made millions as a director of the alternative energy company China Everbright International. (Bo's surname is rare in China; Li is very common). Bloomberg reported that Bo's relatives are worth at least $136 million. [Source: Isaac Stone Fish, Foreign Policy, May 30, 2012]

Bo Xilai and His Family During the Cultural Revolution and the Early Deng Years

Bo Xilai is an ethnic Han and was born in Dingxiang, Shanxi Province in July 1949. John Garnaut wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald, “Bo grew up in a household steeped in the communist ideals of equality, personal austerity and the emancipation of all mankind. Resurrecting Mao symbolised old ideals while reminding people of the contributions their families made to the founding of the People's Republic of China. [Source: John Garnaut. Sydney Morning Herald, August 22, 2013. John Garnaut is the author of “The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo”*=*]

Bo studied with other children of the elite at Beijing No. 4 High School, China’s best. But when Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution in 1966, the elder Bo became one of the first targets of the purges, relabeled a revisionist traitor and dragged from stadium to factory to government office for show trials and beatings. [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

“Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: “At age 17, Mr. Bo seemed to embrace the purges, forming with other elites’ children a radical Red Guard faction later condemned by Chinese authorities for its brutality. Stories abound that young Bo denounced and even beat his father, who spent 12 years in prison. Other Red Guards kidnapped his mother, who was either murdered or died of illness in 1969. The truth is murkier. Historians say Mr. Bo’s faction actually opposed violence and tried to defend its members’ elite parents against Mao’s excesses. Mao’s forces quickly turned on them, and in early 1967 Bo Xilai was shipped to a Beijing labor camp for five years. Working barefoot, often in deep mud, his feet became so rotted that chunks of flesh fell off, he later told friends. [Ibid]

Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: “After Mao’s death, father and son emerged stronger than ever. The rehabilitated Bo Yibo became vice premier in 1979, under his wartime friend Deng Xiaoping. In the succeeding decade, he was Mr. Deng’s point man in the ouster of two successive Communist Party general secretaries, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, during China’s tumultuous and failed liberalization in the 1980s. That earned him the gratitude of Mr. Zhao’s successor as Communist Party leader, Jiang Zemin. The elder Bo, who died in 2007, continued to help Mr. Jiang sideline rivals into his dotage. Mr. Jiang, who continues to wield backstage influence in China’s politics even now, is widely said to have given Bo Xilai’s political career a boost at crucial times. [Ibid]

Gu Kailai: Bo Xilai’s Wife

Bo and Gu Kailai met in the early 1980s and were married in 1986, news reports have said. Bo, who was divorced at the time, had a son from his first marriage. Bo, Gu and Guagua, the couple's only child, were unusual in seeking the spotlight. Her much-photographed short, chic haircut contrasted with the frumpy look favored by most top leaders' wives. When Bo governed the port city Dalian in the 1990s, Gu ran a law firm and consultancy. Journalist Jiang Weiping, later imprisoned for documenting corruption in Bo's circle, claims her firms channeled bribes from Taiwanese and foreign investors. She went by the English name "Horus," referring to the falcon-headed Egyptian god of war, and depicted herself as a fearless attorney in her book, "Uphold Justice in America". [Source: Benjamin Kang Lim and Lucy Hornby, Reuters, August 6, 2012]

“The daughter of a revolutionary luminary, Gu, Kailai was among the first generation of lawyers educated after the Cultural Revolution, the decade of social chaos during which schools were closed,” the New York Times reported. “Gu’s family pedigree includes a father who helped lead Communist resistance to the Japanese in the 1930s and 1940s. Married to Bo Xilai, she reveled in her brash, ambitious ways...Admirers bragged that Ms. Gu, a pioneering lawyer who spoke fluent English, was China’s answer to Jacqueline Onassis. In a nation that prefers the wives of political leaders to be bland adornments, Gu Kailai was positively fluorescent. As her husband rose through the party hierarchy, she ran successful law practice and wrote a book on the foibles of American courts—and what she described as the ruthless efficiency of China’s legal system. [Source: Andrew Jacobs, New York Times, July 26, August 20, 2012; Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

“By most accounts, Ms. Gu was fiercely devoted to Bo Guagua, her only child. In 1998, she accompanied him to Britain, where he attended a private preparatory school, and later, the elite Harrow School, which was Mr. Heywood’s alma mater. Ms. Gu spent at least two years in Britain, where she went by the name Horus, the Egyptian god of war. Some of those who knew her during her time in the seaside resort town of Bournemouth recalled her as a mysterious businesswoman enamored with fine hotels and jewelry. But others described her as unpretentious. Richard Starley, the landlord of her apartment in Bournemouth, said she used to practice her English with him over coffee. ‘she was the most gracious, nice lady you could meet,” he said. “I don’t think she could hurt a fly.” [Ibid]

Gu Kailai and the Nick Heywood Murder, See Separate Article

Bo Guagua, Bo Xilai’s Son, at Harrow and Oxford

Andrew Higgins and Maureen Fan wrote in the Washington Post, “Before his ouster, Bo Xilai had an official annual salary of less than $20,000. But his son attended Harrow School, an exclusive private academy in London with annual fees of about $48,000; then Oxford, which, for overseas students, costs more than $25,000 a year just in tuition. [Source: Andrew Higgins and Maureen Fan, Washington Post, May 18 2012]

“During his final year at Oxford University in England, Bo Guagua ran into trouble because of inattention to his studies. When the university initiated a disciplinary process against him, the Chinese Embassy in London sent a three-person diplomatic delegation to Oxford to discuss the matter with Bo’s tutor at Balliol College, according to an academic who was involved in the episode and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be able to speak candidly. The embassy did not respond to a request for comment. [Ibid]

“The embassy trio pleaded on Bo’s behalf, stressing that education is very important to the Chinese, the academic said. The tutor replied that Bo should, in that case, learn to study more and party less. The intervention by Chinese diplomats didn’t help Bo and, in December 2008, he was “rusticated” for failing to produce academic work of an adequate standard, an effective suspension that, under Oxford regulations, meant he lost his “right of access” to all university facilities. Barred from college housing, Bo moved into a pricey local hotel. He was, however, allowed to take a final examination in 2010. Despite his banishment from classes, he performed well and received a degree. “He was a bright student,” said the Oxford academic, who knew Bo Guagua at the time. But “in Oxford, he was suddenly freer than anything he had experienced before and, like a good many young people in similar circumstances, it was like taking the cork out of a bottle of champagne.”

Reuters reported: “Even before his parents' troubles, Bo Guagua, 24, had become the subject of gossip in China for his elite schooling and perceived extravagance. Media reported a fondness for luxury cars and raised questions about how the family could afford to send him to some of the world's top schools and universities on his father's limited state salary. Bo Guagua became the focus of online gossip when photos appeared of him bare-chested and smeared with lipstick at a college party and participating in campus pranks in Britain. In recent weeks, though, Bo Guagua has kept a lower profile. [Source: Tim McLaughlin, Reuters, May 24, 2012]

Bo Guagua at Harvard

Andrew Higgins and Maureen Fan wrote in the Washington Post, “Harvard’s Kennedy School, which, according to its own estimates, requires about $70,000 a year to cover tuition and living expenses... Fury greeted photographs that showed Bo Guagua cavorting at parties with Western women at a time when his father was promoting a neo-Maoist revival in Chongqing and urging the city’s 33 million residents to reconnect with the austere values of the party’s early years. [Source: Andrew Higgins and Maureen Fan, Washington Post, May 18 2012]

“Ezra F. Vogel, a Harvard professor who said he knows Bo Guagua, told the Washington Post , Bo’s image as a wild playboy is “greatly exaggerated.” The cook at a fast-food eatery near his Cambridge apartment building said Bo Guagua used to come in regularly but didn’t make much of an impression. “He just ordered the usual stuff, BLTs. Nothing special,” said the cook, who gave his name as Mustafa. Staff at Changsho, a Chinese restaurant, however, remember a more extravagant customer. Late one evening, for example, Bo came in alone, ordered four dishes and left after barely touching the food. “He didn’t even ask for a doggie bag,” recalled a restaurant worker, appalled at the waste. [Ibid]

“After the fall of his mother and father Bo Guagua stopped attending classes and moved out of a serviced apartment building with a uniformed doorman near Harvard Yard. (Rents there range from $2,300 to $3,000 a month.) People who know him at Harvard say he had earlier split up with his girlfriend, fellow Harvard student Sabrina Chen, the granddaughter of Chen Yun, a powerful party baron. Bo Guagua “is very worried about what might happen to his mother,” Vogel told the Washington Post after he had received a visit from a “very anxious” Bo during of the brouhaha over parents. [Ibid]

Bo Guagua graduated from Harvard University in May 2012 year and is still believed to be in the United States. Reuters reported: “The son of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai graduated from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, capping a tumultuous academic year that also placed him in the centre of his homeland's biggest leadership crisis in two decades. Bo Guagua, whose perceived lavish lifestyle overseas has created a firestorm on the Internet back in China, wore a black cap and gown with crimson hood when he accepted his diploma at a commencement ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He flashed a broad smile and joined several hundred other students who came from all corners of the globe to study at the Ivy League school. [Source: Tim McLaughlin, Reuters, May 24, 2012]

“Bo Guagua received a master's degree in public policy. After stepping off the graduation stage, he waved to friends in the audience. Approached by Reuters after the ceremony, Bo Guagua declined to talk about his plans. "I just want to enjoy the day and spend time with my classmates," he said in a British-tinged accent. He then hugged friends and chatted with faculty. Classmates and acquaintances told Reuters he has skipped some pre-graduation parties on the advice of his family. [Ibid]

Bo Guagua Defends Himself in a Statement to Harvard Crimson

Bo Guagua wrote in the Harvard Crimson: “To Whom It May Concern...Recently, there has been increasing attention from the press on my private life. As a result of these speculations, I feel responsible to the public to provide an account of the facts. I am deeply concerned about the events surrounding my family, but I have no comments to make regarding the ongoing investigation. It is impossible to address all of the rumours and allegations about myself, but I will state the facts regarding some of the most pertinent claims. Facts: My tuition and living expenses at Harrow School, University of Oxford and Harvard University were funded exclusively by two sources’scholarships earned independently, and my mother’s generosity from the savings she earned from her years as a successful lawyer and writer. [Source: The Crimson, April 24, 2012]

“ My examination records have been solid throughout my schooling years. In the British public examination of GCSEs, which I completed at the age of 16, I achieved 11 “A Stars,” whereas the necessary requirement is no more than 9 and “A” grades are considered good marks. I also earned straight A’s for both AS level and A-level Examinations at the ages of 17 and 18, respectively. [Ibid]

“ At the University of Oxford, I studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics. I was a “tripartite”, being enrolled in all three subjects, rather than dropping one in the second year, as is the norm. Upon graduating, I earned a 2:1 degree (Second Class, First Honours) overall and achieved a First in Philosophy. [Ibid]

“ During my time at Oxford, it is true that I participated in “Bops,” a type of common Oxford social event, many of which are themed. These events are a regular feature of social life at Oxford and most students take part in these college-wide activities. [Ibid]

“ Like many other university students, I also devoted time and energy to extra-curricular activities. For example, I debated in the Oxford Union and served as president of the Politics, Philosophy and Economics Society. These extra-curricular activities enabled me to broaden my perspective, serve the student community, and experience all that Oxford has to offer. I am proud to have been the first mainland Chinese student to be elected to the Standing Committee of the Oxford Union, and I truly value the close friendships I formed with my fellow students. [Ibid]

“ I have never lent my name to nor participated in any for-profit business or venture, in China or abroad. However, I have been involved in developing a not-for-profit social networking website in China, the aim of which is to assist NGOs in raising awareness of their social missions and connecting with volunteers. This initiative has been based out of the Harvard Innovation Lab, with the participation of fellow students and friends. The project remains in the development stage and is not live. [Ibid]

“ I have never driven a Ferrari. I have also not been to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing since 1998 (when I obtained a previous U.S. Visa), nor have I ever been to the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in China. Even my student Visas were issued by the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, which is closer to my home of five years. [Ibid]

Bo Xilai’s First Wife

Bo’s first wife, Li Danyu, turned 62 in 2012. Also a “princeling” child of a party official, she told the New York Times her romance with Bo began when the two met in 1975, at the end of the Cultural Revolution. She said she did not stay in contact with Mr. Bo after their bitter breakup in 1981. [Source: Edward Wong and David Barboza, New York Times, October 6, 2012]

Edward Wong and David Barboza wrote in the New York Times: “Ms. Li and Mr. Bo, whose elite families had known each other for years, began their love affair in 1975. Mr. Bo had just endured years of prison during the Cultural Revolution, when his father was purged, and was working in a factory.Ms. Li, whose family had also suffered, was working as a military doctor. “What he did a lot was he read the selected works of Marx and Lenin,” Ms. Li said. “He was a simple and progressive young man.”

Living in different cities because of their jobs, they wrote letters to each other every three days. In a poem, Mr. Bo ends with lines that reflect both political fervor and romantic feelings Raise the army banner, And laugh still more, gazing at the red cosmos, Spare no effort to move forward. [Ibid]

Ms. Li’s first name means “red cosmos.” They were married in September 1976 and had a son the next year. Mr. Bo enrolled in Peking University. He tried to read eight pages of English each day from library books, she said. He told her, “Eventually China will open to the world, so we have to learn.” The two moved into Zhongnanhai, the Beijing leadership compound, after Mr. Bo’s father became a vice premier. But Mr. Bo did not aspire to join those ranks, Ms. Li said. Mr. Bo switched from studying history to journalism. [Ibid]

The end of the relationship began on their son’s fourth birthday, June 20, 1981. Mr. Bo surprised Ms. Li by asking for a divorce. “He felt very sad and cried and hugged us,” she said. That night, he told her, “I have no feelings for you anymore.” Ms. Li refused to grant the divorce, though she moved out of Zhongnanhai. The case went to court. The divorce was completed in 1984. Ms. Gu, in a book she wrote, said she met Mr. Bo that year in Dalian. But Ms. Li said Mr. Bo might have been secretly seeing Ms. Gu when the two were at Peking University, while Mr. Bo was still married. [Ibid]

To try to stop the divorce, Ms. Li told officials that Ms. Gu had destroyed the marriage. In the interviews, Ms. Li said Ms. Gu, a lawyer, had threatened legal action if Ms. Li persisted. Ms. Li said she “finally summoned enough courage to tell my story” after being contacted by this newspaper. Now, she and her son await the party’s final verdict on Mr. Bo. “In those early years it was pure love,” she said. “Even though he didn’t see me for 30 years, I forget the bad things and remember the good. You don’t want to live with hate.”

Bo Xilai’s Political Career

According to China.org, the Beijing government website: Bo Xilai "joined the CPC in October 1980 and began working in January 1968 after graduating from the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, majoring in international journalism. He holds a Master of Arts degree. [Source: China.org]

From 1968 to 1972 Bo did manual labor in a "study class" during the "Cultural Revolution." From 1972 to 1978: he was a Worker of the Hardware and Machine Repair Plant under Beijing Second Light Industry Bureau. In 1978-1979 Bo was an undergraduate student majoring in world history at the Department of History of Peking University. From 1979-1982 to he was a postgraduate student majoring in international journalism at the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

From 1982 to 1984 Bo was a staff member of the Research Office of the Secretariat and of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee. From 1984 to 1988 he served successively as deputy secretary and secretary of the CPC Committee of Jinxian County, Liaoning Province, and secretary of the CPC Committee of Jinzhou District of Dalian City (1985-1988: concurrently as deputy secretary and secretary, of Party Committee of Dalian Economic and Technological Development Area).

Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: "Bo was also adaptable. As mayor of Dalian in the 1990s, he sought to remake the northeastern coastal megalopolis into a new Singapore. To waves of favorable publicity, his government rewarded citizens who reported rude taxi drivers and fined those who uttered unpleasantries like “nao you bing,” or, roughly, “numbskull.” In Dalian, and in Chongqing, he could pursue liberal causes as easily as leftist ones. He proposed experimenting with direct elections in local townships, courted foreign investment, mounted aggressive tree-planting and pollution cleanup campaigns and built low-income housing."

Mo Zhixu wrote in China Change, “When Bo Xilai was elected a member of the CCP Political Bureau during the 17th CCP Congress in 2007, he was in effect excluded from the future lineup for top leadership of the party and the country. He was not appointed to be one of the deputy prime ministers of the State Council as he had desired; he wasn’t even appointed the party secretary of a more important area such as Shanghai or Guangdong. Instead, he was sent to Chongqing to replace Wang Yang, while Wang Yang was appointed to be the party secretary of Guangdong province. For Bo Xilai, proud and ambitious, it was no doubt a humiliation. The political practices he introduced in Chongqing, in my opinion, were not about vying for a top leadership position in Beijing but an act of resentment meant to showcase his unique political ideas and his personal charisma. [Source: Mo Zhixu, China Change, September 30, 2013]

Bo Xilai's Inner Circle and Super Rich Friend Xu Ming

Members of Bo Xilai’s inner circle included Xu Ming, 41, listed by Forbes as China’s eighth-richest person in 2005; Yu Junshi, a former intelligence agent; and Ma Biao, a businessman, known for his girth. Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield wrote in the New York Times, Yu moved to Chongqing before Bo arrived in December 2007 for his posting as party chief. Mr. Bo had sent him to gather information and build relations, according to people who have met Mr. Yu, a former intelligence officer for the People’s Liberation Army. Mr. Yu had been posted to Bangkok in the 1990s, but an agent in his network defected, and the members of his group were recalled and punished. After Mr. Yu left the intelligence service, he returned to his hometown, Dalian, where Mr. Bo was mayor and Mr. Xu was building up his companies. [Source: Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield, New York Times, May 20, 2012]

“Mr. Yu was investigated by the police over his business activities, and he enlisted the help of Gu Kailai, a lawyer married to Mr. Bo. He soon became friends with Mr. Bo; Mr. Xu, the billionaire; Mr. Ma, the businessman; and Mr. Wang, who was a police officer in the surrounding province of Liaoning, said people familiar with this history. “Bo Xilai is fascinated by spies, so he likes to make friends with intelligence agents,” said Yang Haipeng, an investigative journalist in Shanghai. In a microblog post on April 24, Mr. Yang wrote that Mr. Yu was an ex-spy turned “henchman” for the Bo family who had been detained in March. Censors deleted Mr. Yang’s microblog account, and security officials asked him for his source. [Ibid]

“Mr. Yu, well read and well mannered, moved in rarefied circles in Chongqing and kept a low profile. He was thrust into the spotlight only once, when two dogs he kept at a home in Olympic Garden Villas, a German shepherd and a pit bull terrier, bit a man to death last July, said one person who has visited Mr. Yu at the home.” Wang Lijun, the police chief at the center of the scandal that brought Bo down in 2012, “persuaded Mr. Yu to put the dogs to sleep. “A dog that has caused so much trouble for you will make trouble again; it will jinx your future,” Mr. Yu recalled Mr. Wang saying, according to the person. The episode was reported in The Chongqing Evening News. Mr. Yu told the reporter he worked in the financial industry. [Ibid]

“Business executives seeking to curry favor with Mr. Bo and Mr. Wang sometimes approached Mr. Yu. In 2009, Mr. Bo and Mr. Wang started a crackdown on criminal gangs that was also an offensive against private entrepreneurs and Mr. Bo’s enemies. Fearful of being unfairly ensnared in the crackdown, Yin Mingshan, the founder of Lifan Group, a motorcycle company, arranged a banquet with Mr. Yu, said two friends of the banquet’s organizer. “All the bosses needed protection,” one of them said. Representatives of the company did not answer calls seeking comment. Right after the campaign began, Mr. Xu and Mr. Ma started real estate projects in Chongqing through a complex web of companies. “Bo Xilai would always give Xu Ming advantages in doing business,” said one person. [Ibid]

Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Just 21 when Bo came to Dalian, Xu became a billionaire within a few years. At one point, according to Forbes, he was the eighth-richest man in China. He showed his appreciation by showering the Bo family with his largess. Xu allegedly flew the family on first-class trips to Europe and paid for Bo's son to attend the $40,000-a-year Harrow boarding school in London. He hired a law firm run by Gu. He is also suspected of buying various properties for the Bo family, including the stunning villa in Cannes. "It was a typical relationship between a politician and a businessman — they traded power and money," said Jiang Weiping, a Chinese journalist who was imprisoned after reporting on corruption in Dalian. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2013 \\\\]

Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield wrote in the New York Times, “In the 1990s, Mr. Xu built up his main conglomerate, Dalian Shide, whose holdings range from home appliances to finance to building materials, by winning contracts from local officials, including a lucrative deal to provide window frames while Mr. Bo was mayor of Dalian. Mr. Xu also received generous loans from state banks, including from China Guangfa Bank, where Mr. Ma was a branch chief. Mr. Ma left the bank years ago and started an insurance company. After Mr. Bo arrived in Chongqing, Mr. Ma and Mr. Xu set up several companies to develop Chongqing real estate, according to financial records and information from government and company Web sites. Mr. Xu and Mr. Ma have roles in at least three companies founded in 2009: Chongqing Heshengyu Real Estate Development, Chongqing Shenghe Construction and Guanghua Huihuang. [Source: Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield, New York Times, May 20, 2012]

“Mr. Xu found ways to keep himself veiled. He sometimes used a Hong Kong company, Golden International Investment, to invest in local companies. Records in Hong Kong list Mr. Xu and three other Dalian Shide executives as the directors of Golden in 2003. The companies bought at least 123 acres of land in Chongqing, according to Chinese news media reports. Mr. Xu and Mr. Ma often met their allies discreetly in hotels. One sweltering night last summer, Mr. Ma walked with Mr. Yu, the former spy, into the lobby of the Nanshan Lijing Resort, set in misty hills on the city’s outskirts. Mr. Wang, the police chief, greeted them there in a respectful manner, and they dined with Mr. Xu, said one witness. The resort was known as a rendezvous point for people close to Mr. Bo, and Mr. Heywood’s body was found in a villa there on Nov. 15. Police investigators determined that Mr. Heywood had been poisoned, and suspected Mr. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was involved. [Ibid]

Bo Xilai’s Political Career in Dalian

In 1988-1989 Bo was a member of the Standing Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Dalian Municipal Committee, Liaoning Province. From 1989 to 1992 he was a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Dalian Municipal Committee of Liaoning Province and vice mayor of Dalian City. In 1992-1993 he was Deputy secretary of the CPC Dalian Municipal Committee of Liaoning Province and acting mayor of Dalian City.

From 1993 to 1999 Bo was Deputy secretary of the CPC Dalian Municipal Committee of Liaoning Province and mayor of Dalian City. In 1999-2000 he was a Member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Liaoning Provincial Committee, secretary of the CPC Dalian Municipal Committee and mayor of Dalian City. In 2000-2001 he was Deputy secretary of the CPC Liaoning Provincial Committee and acting governor of Liaoning Province.

From 2001 to 2004 Bo was Deputy secretary of the CPC Liaoning Provincial Committee and governor of Liaoning Province. From 2004 to 2007 he was Minister of Commerce, deputy secretary and then secretary of the Leading Party Members' Group of the Ministry of Commerce.

Bo Xilai's as Mayor of Dalian

Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: “Barely a decade after taking his first desk job at Communist Party headquarters in Beijing, Mr. Bo was named mayor of Dalian, a city of about six million on the north Pacific coast, in 1992.” There “he began to hone the political skills and a hunger for authority that would come to define his career.” [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

The mayor’s job was a plum—the central government was pouring billions into reviving its coastal cities—and Mr. Bo oversaw a lavish effort to remake Dalian, a graceful but rundown seaport, in the image of Hong Kong. A building boom replaced empty factories with office and apartment towers; companies from nearby Japan made Dalian a beachhead for investment in China. Mr. Bo poured billions of renminbi into splashy ventures like annual international fashion shows and beer festivals, civic sculptures and a program that draped the city in seas of freshly planted grass. [Ibid]

“Mr. Bo attended seven and eight events a day in the style of an American mayor in full re-election mode. He relentlessly hyped Dalian’s soccer team, China’s best, as an icon of civic pride. “You could argue that none of these things are basic to the well-being of the people, but you had the sense it appealed,” said Stephen MacKinnon, an author and longtime scholar of China who knew Mr. Bo in the 1980s and early 1990s. “It was flashy.” [Ibid]

“Mr. Bo’s self-promotion was equally splashy: by the mid-1990s, a celebrity chronicler had penned a fawning history of his Dalian accomplishments, and pro-Bo articles were being planted in major newspapers nationwide. Dalian gained an international buzz, and Mr. Bo vaulted to governor of surrounding Liaoning Province and a seat on the Central Committee, which includes about 370 of the party’s most powerful figures. “He was accompanied wherever he went by a battalion of fabulous young women wearing Madonna headsets and sassy little sailor outfits,” The South China Morning Post gushed in 2004, recounting a dinner with the governor on a ship docked at Dalian port. “He circulated easily between tables, shaking hands with every man, woman and child on board, graciously accepting the many requests for photos and autographs that his celebrity status guaranteed. Later, when he spoke on stage, his enraptured audience seemed powerless to resist him.” [Ibid]

Bo Xilai's Success as the Mayor of Dalian

Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: “Barely a decade after taking his first desk job at Communist Party headquarters in Beijing, Mr. Bo was named mayor of Dalian, a city of about six million on the north Pacific coast, in 1992.” There “he began to hone the political skills and a hunger for authority that would come to define his career.” [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

The mayor’s job was a plum—the central government was pouring billions into reviving its coastal cities—and Mr. Bo oversaw a lavish effort to remake Dalian, a graceful but rundown seaport, in the image of Hong Kong. A building boom replaced empty factories with office and apartment towers; companies from nearby Japan made Dalian a beachhead for investment in China. Mr. Bo poured billions of renminbi into splashy ventures like annual international fashion shows and beer festivals, civic sculptures and a program that draped the city in seas of freshly planted grass. [Ibid]

“Mr. Bo attended seven and eight events a day in the style of an American mayor in full re-election mode. He relentlessly hyped Dalian’s soccer team, China’s best, as an icon of civic pride. “You could argue that none of these things are basic to the well-being of the people, but you had the sense it appealed,” said Stephen MacKinnon, an author and longtime scholar of China who knew Mr. Bo in the 1980s and early 1990s. “It was flashy.” [Ibid]

“Mr. Bo’s self-promotion was equally splashy: by the mid-1990s, a celebrity chronicler had penned a fawning history of his Dalian accomplishments, and pro-Bo articles were being planted in major newspapers nationwide. Dalian gained an international buzz, and Mr. Bo vaulted to governor of surrounding Liaoning Province and a seat on the Central Committee, which includes about 370 of the party’s most powerful figures. “He was accompanied wherever he went by a battalion of fabulous young women wearing Madonna headsets and sassy little sailor outfits,” The South China Morning Post gushed in 2004, recounting a dinner with the governor on a ship docked at Dalian port. “He circulated easily between tables, shaking hands with every man, woman and child on board, graciously accepting the many requests for photos and autographs that his celebrity status guaranteed. Later, when he spoke on stage, his enraptured audience seemed powerless to resist him.” [Ibid]

Bo Xilai's Ruthlessness

Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: “For all his success, the seeds of Mr. Bo’s destruction were evident long ago to many of those who knew him. He was a man of prodigious charisma and deep intelligence, someone who not only possessed the family pedigree and network of allies that are crucial in Chinese politics, but who had also mastered the image-massaging and strategic use of public cash that fuel every Western politician’s rise. Bo’s undisputed talents were counterbalanced by what friends and critics alike say was an insatiable ambition and studied indifference to the wrecked lives that littered his path to power. Little is known about career maneuvers in China’s cloistered leadership elite, but those who study the topic say that Mr. Bo’s ruthlessness stood out, even in a system where the absence of formal rules ensures that only the strongest advance.” [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

In 2000, when Bo was mayor of Dalian in Liaoning Province, he threw reporter Jiang Weiping behind bars for writing articles in a Hong Kong publication that were critical of him. In 2009, during Bo's crime crackdown in Chongqing, a lawyer from Beijing who had claimed a senior gang member was innocent in court found himself being prosecuted for fabricating evidence. Nobody really trusts him: a lot of people are scared of him, including several princelings who are supposed to be his power base,” Cheng Li, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, told the New York Times. “That’s just his character,” the son of one Communist Party elder, who knows Mr. Bo well, said. “From the county up to the Politburo, he’s a person who has to have it his way.” [Ibid]

“Mr. Bo was said by employees,” Wines wrote, “to be a demanding and unforgiving boss, summoning underlings to middle-of-the-night meetings, throwing crockery and even hitting those who failed to deliver what he wanted. One such underling approached an associate of Mr. Bo shortly after a meeting in Dalian and begged the associate to give her a job. ‘she said to me, “He’s angry and abusive, verbally abusive. He’s a bad man and I want to change jobs,” he recalled. That penchant for power and glory earned him powerful enemies at virtually every step of his ascendance. His peers from Liaoning Province, where he was a prominent official for more than a decade, pointedly left him off the delegation to the 15th Congress of the Communist Party in 1997, even though he was by then both mayor and deputy party secretary in Dalian, the province’s second-largest city. [Ibid]

“When Mr. Bo left his post as Liaoning Province governor in 2004 to become commerce minister in Beijing, the province’s party secretary, Wen Shizhen, famously gave a party to celebrate his exit. Yet he continued upward anyway, the internal enmities papered over by a Communist Party obsessed with the appearance of unity, his excesses overlooked by the family and political allies whose own clout rose with his. [Ibid]

Bo Xilai’s Political Career in Chongqing

From 2007 to 2012 Bo was Secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee and member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. Bo’s posting in 2007 to Chongqing, the New York Times reported, deep in China’s interior, was seen by some as an effort to sideline him. Instead, it became the base for his campaign to join the Politburo’s Standing Committee, the nine-member body at the peak of the Communist hierarchy whose membership will turn over this fall.

Bo was sent to Chongqing by the Communist Party elite in part because the city was seen as backwater and his critics thought they couls shit him up by seding him there. Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: “Yet any expectation that exile and a consolation-prize seat on the Politburo would bank Mr. Bo’s ambitions proved misplaced. Instead, he reprised his Dalian agenda, spending billions to plaster the city with ginkgo trees, luring foreign investment, publicizing his accomplishments—and spearheading an anticorruption drive that took on aspects of the Cultural Revolution purges that claimed his father. [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

In Chongqing, a sprawling municipality of 32 million people, Bo embarked on a series of campaigns. Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times: Bo’s ideology is decidedly un-American, in the 1950s-McCarthyism sense—he’s a hard-core Maoist best known for a campaign to sing revolutionary songs—but his style was straight out of American politics. In public, he spoke without a script and basked in media attention, loudly protesting his innocence to journalists on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress the week before he was fired. That didn’t sit well with China’s tight-lipped apparatchiks. “They were offended by his courting the media and promoting himself as a personality,” said Patrick Chovanec, an economist and political analyst at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. “If that became the new template of how you compete in Chinese politics, a lot of them would have been in trouble.” [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2012]

Bo Xilai’s Policies and the Chongqing Model

Reuters reported: Sharply dressed in a party of stolid conformists, Bo arrived in Chongqing in 2007 and promoted the city as a bold egalitarian alternative to China's current pattern of growth. As the "princeling" son of a revolutionary leader, Bo had added claim to speak on behalf of the party's traditions. But his promotion of Mao Zedong-inspired "red" culture and sweeping crackdown on organised crime prompted fears that he risked reviving some of the arbitrary lawlessness of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s - a criticism that Premier Wen Jiabao laid before the public in mid-March.

Willy Lam of the Jamestown Foundation wrote in China Brief, “Since Bo became party chief of China’s most populous city in late 2007, the flamboyant former minister of commerce has made headlines with his no-holds-barred advocacy of Maoist norms. In his speeches, the charismatic Bo has profusely cited Mao-era slogans such as “plain living and hard struggle” and “human beings need to have [a revolutionary] spirit” He has resuscitated Cultural Revolution-vintage revolutionary operas. Bo...even asks his secretaries to regularly text-message Mao quotations to the city’s students On the economic front, the high-profile “princeling” has made waves with his attempts to go after “red GDP,” a reference to economic construction that exemplifies Maoist egalitarianism. Chongqing has emerged as a national pacesetter in social-welfare policies such as providing subsidized public housing to the city’s masses [Source: Willy Lam, Jamestown Foundation, China Brief, December 17, 2010]

Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: Bo had a keen interest in economics and a reputation for getting things done. Nobody paid much attention to the fate of Jiang Weiping, a journalist who spent five years in jail after he reported on how Bo had covered up corruption among friends and relatives while working as a senior official in Manchuria in the 1990s. [Source: Andrew Higgins, Washington Post, March 4, 2012]

Lam wrote in China Brief, Xilai “Apart from staging revolutionary operas and putting up Mao statues, Bo and company have sought to take better care of disadvantaged sectors in the municipality by building more social-security apartments and providing near-universal health care and pension. Singing the praise of “redness” means supporting what is right, Bo, a leading member of the so-called Gang of Princelings, said recently. A city must do a good job of nurturing spiritual civilization. He added that cadres who are obsessed with GDP rates—but who lack spiritual values—may go down the road of corruption and degeneration (China News Service, April 20; Chongqing Daily, March 18). [Source: Willy Lam, China Brief, April. 29, 2010]

Bo promoted the “Chongqing model,” a system of governance that mixed old-style communist morality, modern economic efficiency and zero tolerance of crime. Keith B. Richburg wrote in the Washington Post, Richburg wrote: “The “Chongqing model,” as it has been called in the local media, seemed to win an endorsement from the top when China’s leader-in-waiting, Vice President Xi Jinping, made a brief visit in December and applauded the city for “upholding socialist norms.” Other senior leaders have also traveled here to show their backing. But Bo, in the interview, said he was not focused on creating a national model. “I study the problems of the place where I work,” he said. ‘so right now, I am just focused on the problems of Chongqing.” [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, June 29. 2011]

Bo Xilai’s Anti-Crime Campaign

20111030-China org  bo xilai.jpg
The anti-crime campaign, known as ‘smash black, banish evil,” lay at the foundation of the “Chongqing model.” Chongqing’s assault on alleged mafia networks began in 2009 and has been loudly applauded by many locals, who cheered the arrest of feared hoodlums and the 2010 execution of Wen Qiang, a notoriously corrupt official who ran the city’s police force from 1992 until 2008. Chongqing’s notorious criminal gangs blossomed over the years because of the city’s strategic location where the Jialing River meets the upper Yangtze River, creating a lucrative smuggling route. [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, June 29. 2011]

No official numbers are available, but the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily reported in February that from the beginning of the anti-crime campaign until September, 10,372 people were arrested and 1,000 sentenced to forced labor. Some lawyers and human rights activists have criticized the campaign, saying that the rights of defendants were trampled on. Some lawyers have also alleged that criminals were tortured.

Many say the anti-crime sweep, like the red culture campaign, might be related to Bo’s national ambitions, including his desire to win a seat next year on the Communist Party’s powerful nine-member Politburo standing committee. Many analysts called Bo a likely candidate to replace Zhou Yongkang, who oversees the domestic security apparatus and will be retiring.

Bo’s controversial dahei or anti-triad campaign have been popular in some circles. Future Chinese President Xi Jinping praised Chongqing’s “hair-raising struggle to combat triad gangs and extirpate evil criminals.” “Police and law-enforcement officers took the lead and went through the test of life and death to realize outstanding achievements,” Xi said. “The Chongqing party committee has scored a major victory in safeguarding the basic rights and interests of the broad masses... The anti-triad campaign is deeply popular and it has brought joy to the people’s hearts.” [Source: Lam, China Brief, December 17, 2010]

Wang Lijun was Bo’s hand-picked chief of police and the enforcer behind a controversial crackdown on Chongqing's gangs and the politicians and policemen who protected them. The campaign won Bo national attention and praise among his constituents, resulting in 2,000 arrests, 500 prosecutions and 13 executions, including that of the former director of the city's Judicial Bureau over bribery, rape, extortion and gang-related charges.

For more on Bo’s dahei or anti-triad campaign See Triads and Organized Crime

Problems with Bo Xilai’s Anti-Crime Campaign

Keith B. Richburg wrote in the Washington Post, “In Chongqing, Bo was perhaps best known for leading a ferocious assault on crime called “da hei,” or ‘strike the black,” that was led by his right-hand man, the former police chief Wang Lijun, who later betrayed him. The thousands jailed in the campaign, also called “hard strike” in the Chinese media, included gang members, wealthy businessmen, police officers and local government officials. About 1,000 people were sentenced to forced labor, and dozens executed, many after hasty trials that ignored even rudimentary judicial procedures. Many have alleged that they were tortured while in custody and confessed under duress. [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post il 19, 2012]

“Among those caught in Bo’s sweep were the former top judicial official in the city, Wen Qiang, who was executed in July 2010 for corruption, and Xie Caiping, known as the “Godmother of Chongqing” for her illicit gambling dens and rumorsstable of 16 lovers. But also swept up were virtually all of Chongqing’s top businessmen, whose family members say they had no connection to criminal activity; rather, they say, the businessmen were targeted so their assets could be seized. [Ibid]

The Chongqing Anti-Crime Campaign also drew criticism for ignoring due process at a time when the government is at least paying lip service to calls for strengthened legal guarantees, albeit highly selectively. It also appeared to especially target private businesses, fueling a sense of insecurity among China's entrepreneurial class that is spurring large numbers of them to move abroad.

Keith B. Richburg and Andrew Higgins, wrote in the Washington Post: Beijing authorities investigated Bo’s anti-crime crusade because of allegations that the targets were often wealthy Chongqing businessmen. One of the targeted businessmen, Li Jun, who founded Chongqing Junfeng Industrial Development Group, a big property and trading company, urged Beijing to “thoroughly investigate their criminal acts. Their crimes must be answered for.” Li accused Bo of colluding with a senior People’s Liberation Army officer, Zhang Haiyang, to grab property that his Junfeng Group had purchased from the military. He said that Bo had close ties stretching back decades with Zhang, who is now political commissar of China’s nuclear missile forces. [Source: Keith B. Richburg and Andrew Higgins, Washington Post. March 15, 2012]

Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post, “Amid concerns over confessions made under duress and other abuses, human rights activists and lawyers complain that the anti-mafia campaign tramples due process and risks branding legitimate private businesspeople as mafia dons. Big state-owned companies, though widely viewed as among China’s most graft-addled enterprises, have been spared from attack. [Source: Andrew Higgins, Washington Post, March 4, 2012]

China’s legal community was incensed when a prominent Beijing lawyer, Li Zhuang, was arrested and spent 18 months in jail, allegedly for coaching a gangster he was defending to give false testimony during his trial. He was released this month. Legal scholars said Li’s case cast a pall over all lawyers in China, who might find themselves being prosecuted for helping their clients.

“How can private entrepreneurs feel safe?” He Weifang, a law professor at Peking University told the Washington Post . The seizing of private assets “reminds people of what Jews suffered during World War II.” Tong Zhiwei, a law professor at Shanghai’s East China University of Political Science and Law, said Chongqing has battered criminal gangs but, in the process, has also “destroyed the legal system.” He wrote a lengthy report last year detailing how “police prepare all the food, prosecutors serve it and the courts eat it.”

In a brief interview in July 2011 in Chongqing, Bo defended his anti-crime crackdown, saying he found a lawless place when he arrived as party secretary in 2007. “It didn’t just occur to me to crack down on the triads,” he said. “It’s because when I arrived in Chongqing, the triad gangsters were here first. All governments in the world would do the same thing. Bo added, “If there are any illegal or mafia-related problems—someone breaking the law—we will crack down.” [Ibid]

”Red Culture” Revival

Bo also gained notoriety for a citywide campaign to revive Mao-era communist songs and stories, dredging up memories of the chaotic Cultural Revolution, although Bo claimed he wasn't motivated by politics and only wanted to boost civic pride. The campaign fizzled after initial bursts of positive publicity.

20111030-China org  bo xilai family.jpg
Bo and his family
Reporting from Chongqing before the approach of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China in July 2011, Keith B. Richburg wrote in the Washington Post, “The country is being swept up in a wave of orchestrated revolutionary nostalgia...The local satellite television station recently stopped broadcasting sitcoms and now shows only “revolutionary” programs and news. Government workers and students have been told to spend time working in the countryside. The local propaganda department launched a “red Twitter” micro-blogging site, blasting out short patriotic slogans. [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, June 29. 2011]

And in what seems like a throwback to the days of the Cultural Revolution, residents have been encouraged—or told—to read revolutionary books and poetry and to gather regularly in parks to sing old songs extolling the Communist revolution. A recent Sunday gathering, including a colorful, choreographed stage pageant, attracted an estimated 10,000 flag-waving people, many in uniforms and red caps and mostly organized by the party chiefs in their schools and factories.

Bo defended the red culture campaign, saying, “We aim to encourage people’s spirits.” He said his campaign has four aspects: reading Chinese and foreign classics, including the theories of Mao and other Marxist leaders; telling popular stories; circulating inspiring mottos; and group-singing of revolutionary anthems. “We should spread these things more,” Bo said.

Many here, including Communist Party adherents, agree that this revival of revolutionary fervor is needed to instill a new sense of pride and common purpose, adding that they feared that China’s decades-long rush to get rich has eroded the country’s moral bearings and created an ethos of unchecked materialism. “When I sing red songs, I find a kind of spirit I never felt when singing modern songs,” said Zhang Chenxi, a third-year student at Southwest University here. “To surround yourself with material stuff is just a waste of time.”

For others, particularly those old enough to remember the bloodshed and chaos of the decade-long Cultural Revolution that began in 1966, the red culture campaign is an unwelcome reminder of one of the darker chapters of China’s recent turbulent history. The Cultural Revolution played out particularly violently in Chongqing, with clashes in the streets involving knives, heavy weapons and tanks.”For people of my generation, it’s like a return to the Mao era,” said a 57-year-old lawyer who had attended a middle school in Chongqing and asked not to be quoted by name. “I saw the beatings of the teachers by the Red Guards. It was horrible,” the lawyer said. “Young people may not recognize it. But for us who lived through it, how can we possibly sing?”

Richburg wrote in the Washington Post, in June 2011, “Bo took his efforts to Beijing, with a 1,000-member Chongqing singing troupe, including small children and the elderly, performing red songs for audiences at several concert halls. Most senior party officials stayed away, but mid-level officials were in the audience.Some critics said they were rattled by this apparent revival of Maoism and red culture, which seems to be gaining traction nationwide. [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, June 29. 2011]

'Red Song' Campaign in 2011

Reporting from Chongqing, Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times,” Although her musical tastes run to Mariah Carey and Norah Jones, Vicy Zhang didn't hesitate when she received an instant message inviting her to sing paeans to Mao Tse-tung at a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. "How could I refuse?" said Zhang, a 26-year-old graduate student at Chongqing University who hopes to join the party and have a career in civil service. "I thought it was boring and useless, but I didn't dare say no."[Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, June 03, 2011]

More than 10,000 students and faculty members participated in the event last month. Although Zhang wore an evening gown, other students were dressed as Red Army soldiers, with red epaulets and armbands. Carrying red flags, they danced around a university athletic field with arms swinging rhythmically to martial music harking back to China circa 1966.

Throughout China, people are singing and dancing in homage to the Communist Party. The "red song" campaign began in Chongqing, where it was launched by party Secretary Bo Xilai, an ambitious politician who is believed to be angling for a seat on the Standing Committee of the Politburo."Red songs depict China's path in a simple, sincere and vivid way," Bo was quoted as saying by state news agencies in November. "There's no need to be artsy.... Only dilettantes prefer enigmatic works."

Under orders from the local propaganda department, Chongqing satellite television suspended its soap operas in favor of patriotic songfests. From April 20 to May 20, local newspapers had to publish the lyrics to familiarize the populace with the songs.Outside the airport, a billboard as high as a seven-story building features photographs of pink-cheeked young Chinese students and workers urging the public to "Sing Red Songs! Spread the Truth! Raise Your Spirits!" In public parks, retirees set up portable stereos and dance in long lines to songs praising Mao, even in Shapingba Park, which is next to an overgrown cemetery where thousands of people killed in the fighting of the late 1960s are buried.

No doubt there is a genuine gusto for red songs, particularly among the older generation, for whom Communist marching songs are the campfire tunes of their childhood. On a balmy recent evening, a dozen people twirled through the dark in Renmin Park, the dancing figures illuminated by slivers of fluorescent light from a nearby beauty salon.

"We know these songs from our youth. We grew up with revolutionary spirit and we want to pass that on to our children," said Cai Derong, 55, who wiped his brow as he watched his wife, dressed for the occasion in a silky black-and-white dress, dance with one of her girlfriends. "Our economy is good. We want to express our appreciation to the Communist Party," piped in a middle-aged woman, Zhang Jin, who was also taking a break from the dancing.

Criticism, Lack of Enthusiasm and Mockery of the 'Red Song' Campaign

To critics, the Maoist revival has echoes of the maniacal quest for political correctness during the Cultural Revolution. "People with a sense of history look at it and wonder whether it is possible to go back to an era in which cruel things would happen again," said Alan Zhang, a recent law school graduate from Chongqing and blogger who, like other students interviewed, agreed to be quoted using only an English name. "The red song campaign has made Chongqing a laughingstock," he said."It's not that everyone is required to sing and love the songs. What we are seeking is a wider participation," Xu Chao, the Chongqing official in charge of the program, told the party-controlled Global Times.

At Chongqing's universities, those invited to participate in Communist Party anniversary celebrations were primarily party members and aspiring party members, many of them top students who see membership as a prerequisite to jobs in government or academia. "You have to accept when you get an invite, or you will be considered politically incorrect," said Owen Chen, a 24-year-old student and party member. "In our country, these are the kinds of things you have to do." [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, June 03, 2011]

When the invitations were sent out, students jokingly turned red song into a verb, saying to one another "I've been red songed. Have you been red songed?" Participation meant going to rehearsals up to twice a day in the weeks before the May 11 performance."I didn't see a single student who sang these songs with passion," Vicy Zhang said.

It wasn't just the inconvenience; the politics were distasteful to the students too. They said the performances looked just like the "loyalty dance" everybody was required to do during the Cultural Revolution, moving arms from the heart to the sun in a display of boundless devotion to Mao.

As soon as the music died, one of the older men sat down on a stone bench next to a reporter and in a loud voice offered up contrary opinion. "These people are all afraid to tell you the truth. They're dancing to these red songs because it is all they have in their brain. For 40 to 50 years, they've heard nothing else. The propaganda songs have drowned out regular Chinese folk music," said the man, Hu Jiaqing, 60. "It is just like the Cultural Revolution: They're using these big campaigns and movements to cover up their social problems.” None of the other dancers argued. They just drifted away in the dark.

Bo Xilai, the Unlikely Flagbearer of China’s New Left

Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield wrote in the New York Times: “As the party pursued policies that created huge gaps in wealth and a vastly moneyed elite, many leftists found in Mr. Bo — with his expensive suits, foreign business friends and a son educated at elite schools in Britain and the United States — an unlikely beacon. The son of one of the revered “Eight Immortals” who helped lead the party in the Mao and Deng Xiaoping eras, he pursued a place on the elite Politburo Standing Committee by turning Chongqing into a showcase for policies aimed at securing both market prosperity and socialist equality. [Source: Edward Wong and Chris Buckley, New York Times, August 20, 2013 ><]

“Many on China’s far left embraced him as a potential ally; he in turn burnished his new image by luring leftist journalists, writers and intellectuals to his fief to extol the “Chongqing model” and sing red with him. (They ignored that staunch defenders of the capitalist way were also among the pilgrims — Henry Kissinger gave a speech in praise of Mr. Bo at one gala.) ><

“Bo Xilai’s Chongqing model showed that the current system can be used to restore relations between the party and the people,” said Zhang Hongliang, a teacher in Beijing who is an intellectual leader of the hard-line left. “The people in Chongqing used to say, ‘The Communist Party has come back.’ ” Mr. Zhang said that after Mr. Bo’s fall, some leftists turned against party leaders. “In particular, many people who originally supported Xi Jinping began to complain about him,” he said. “Because of the Bo Xilai incident, the whole left wing is a mess,” he added, referring to “a massive split” between those condemning the party and others who, like himself, still seek to influence it from within. ><

Bo Xilai, an Advocate of Multiparty Democracy and a Threat to the Party Leadership?

20111031-wikicommons  Boyibo1957.jpg
Bo Yibo
Francesco Sisci wrote in the Asia Times, “Are these buds of multiparty democracy in China? Is it democracy with Chinese characteristics or just intra-party democracy? It's a new shape to the old power struggle for sure - but what is it really? It is certainly a new action in ossified Chinese politics, and a development that's taking place on the eve of a historical party congress, one where, for the first time, there is no one single elderly leader to choose his successors.When Bo took over as party leader in Chongqing “he broke the traditional succession truce with his predecessor, Wang Yang, and launched an unprecedented anti-mafia campaign. It was something that Beijing people saw as an insult to Wang, a fellow Politburo member who was moved to head the Guangdong party. Why had Wang tolerated the mafia when Bo would not? Was it really the mafia, or was it something else?” [Source: Francesco Sisci, Asia Times, April 20, 2011]

Bo’s revival of Maoism Sisci wrote “was a line he started on its own and that actually perplexed Beijing leaders, uncertain about what to think of this local campaign: whether to approve it and allow it to spread nationwide, or censor it and thus expose the rift in the party's allegedly unified propaganda policy. In either case, Bo had set the agenda, and Beijing was on the defensive. Thus Beijing astutely decided to simply ignore it.

“If it matters, then we are seeing the birth of conflicting interests in China: Bo against the others,” Sisci wrote. “But who are the others? Some conflicting interests in China are out in the open: rival companies competing for market share or provinces competing for resources and attention from abroad and Beijing...But this is no longer a classic power struggle; it is something new. There are opposing lines with opposing think-tanks...There are parties within the party. It may be a matter of time before this becomes formalized. Crushing it seems very difficult, although it might not be impossible.”

“What we see with Bo is no petty experiment of a village election involving a few hundred voters; it is a top Chinese leader campaigning for a top government position in the 2012 congress. After he sets the example, others could follow it and campaign in the same manner. Formalization of the opposing lines or of those campaigns could be just a matter of time.”

Willy Lam wrote after the October 2011 Central Committee meeting,” Despite the relative enthusiasm with which the chang hong (‘singing red songs’) movement has been received in different cities, the Central Committee did not give its imprimatur to reviving Maoist culture. The plenum communiqué urged all Chinese to “use as motivation [the spirit of] reform and creativity” so as to create cultural products that are “geared toward modernization and focused on the world and on the future.” “We must raise the cultural standard of all the people, boost the nation’s cultural soft power, propagate Chinese culture and assiduously build up a culturally strong socialist country,” it said. That no reference whatsoever was made to “red culture” seems to support the thesis that the country’s two top leaders—President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao—are not fans of Bo’s chang hong persuasion. Moreover, despite the metropolis’s status as one of China’s four centrally administered cities in addition to being the business hub of western China, neither Hu nor Wen has visited Chongqing since Bo became its party boss in late 2007.[Source: Willy Lam, China Brief, Jamestown Foundation, October 28, 2011]

Bo Xilai and Corruption

By some estimates Bo Xilai and his family collected hundreds of millions—even billions—of dollars of through bribes and corruption. Bloomberg reported that Bo's relatives are worth at least $136 million. Keith B. Richburg wrote in the Washington Post: “Bo’s elder brother, Bo Xiyong—who also goes by the name Li Xueming—served as a director and vice chairman of China Everbright International, an alternative-energy company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and reportedly earned millions in stock options before stepping down in April. A younger brother, Bo Xicheng, a director of several state-owned firms, has been involved in lucrative investments in Dalian, where Bo Xilai served as mayor. And two of Gu’s sisters are widely reported to have financial holdings worth more than $100 million through a web of business ventures stretching from Shenzhen to the British Virgin Islands. [Source: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, June 15, 2012]

“Takanori Kato and Takeshi Makino wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: Bo “is suspected of having received at least 1 billion yuan ($166 million) in bribes, party sources have revealed. There are suspicions that the illicit payoffs Bo accepted may amount to billions of yuan, most of which is believed to have been illegally transferred overseas, the sources said. The party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has embarked on a full-scale investigation into the alleged corruption by Bo and his relatives with strong business ties in Hong Kong, the sources said. Among the family members questioned by the commission is Bo Xiyong, Bo's older brother. Xiyong recently resigned as vice chairman and executive director of China Everbright International Ltd., a manufacturer of environmental conservation equipment based in Hong Kong. Xiyong reportedly quit to minimize "the possible adverse effects" on his company owing to media reports on his family's background. [Source: Takanori Kato and Takeshi Makino, Yomiuri Shimbun , April 28, 2012]

“Material evidence has so far been discovered to prove the acceptance of 1 billion yuan by Bo Xilai, 62, 15, according to the sources. Findings by the commission based on tips from whistle-blowers suggest Bo took the 1 billion yuan in bribes from Chongqing municipal government officials in return for their promotion to higher posts after Bo became head of the municipality, which is China's most populous city, in December 2007, the sources said. Bo's wife Gu Kailai is suspected of having served as the intermediary for the payment of bribes. [Ibid]

“The bribes included about 30 million yuan (390 million yen) allegedly offered by Xia Zeliang, Bo's assistant, in exchange for being handpicked for the high post of Chongqing municipal committee secretary, the sources said. Xia is suspected of having prepared the poison used in the Heywood murder. When questionable payoffs from businesses are included, the amount of cash bribes believed to have been given to Bo is estimated at several billion yuan, they said. [Ibid]

Bo Xilai's French Villa and Other Properties

Barbara Demick wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Through proxies, Bo and his wife are said to have owned a $3.5-million villa in Cannes, luxury apartments in London as well as a condominium in Cambridge, Mass., where their son had attended Harvard's Kennedy School. The most eye-catching example in the trial is likely to be the villa perched on a leafy hillside overlooking the Mediterranean. It was purchased in 2001 by Residences Fontaine St. Georges, according to French court records uncovered by the Wall Street Journal. Records show that the director of the company was initially Patrick Devillers, a Frenchman who had lived in Dalian, but that management was transferred to Heywood in 2007. [Source: Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2013 \\\\]

“During Gu's in 2012 year, prosecutors charged that she murdered Heywood because he was demanding $22 million for a "real estate project in France" and another development in Chongqing, where Bo was party leader until he was purged. The year before Heywood's death, management of the villa was transferred to television hostess Feng Jiang Dolby. Photographs posted on her personal blog, which have since been deleted, show a three-story home surrounded by crenelated white walls with a sparkling swimming pool bordered by shrubbery. \\\\

“Bo and Gu rarely — if ever — visited the villa, which was rented out as a vacation home to wealthy foreigners, often Russians. "They were very busy people. They sometimes went to the U.K. or the U.S. or maybe Singapore, but they didn't have time to travel around France," said Larry Cheng, a retired businessman who was Gu's law partner in Dalian. \\\\

Cheng said he knew Gu had traveled to Paris, but was not aware of any trips to the French Bo was actually less obsessed with money than many other politicians are, said a Taiwanese businessman who knows the family well. "He was into power and women. Money was always second," said the businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity. \\\\

Bo Xilai’s Enemies in the Communist Party

Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: “Bo “made several powerful enemies. His appointment in 2007, as party secretary of Chongqing, was in fact devised to move him out of Beijing and away from the seat of power. Two previous heads of China’s Trade Ministry, the Commerce Ministry’s predecessor, had gone on to become vice premier, a post Mr. Bo was said to crave. But one, Wu Yi, had come to dislike Mr. Bo’s abrasiveness and self-promotion; she sided with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and others in shunting him to a job in the hinterlands.” [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

Two people who know Ms. Wu said she was miffed by his grandstanding at a 2005 Washington session of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, where she had led a delegation of senior leaders. She was further put off after he opened a police investigation into the Commerce Ministry’s international affairs office, where she maintained close ties. And in talks with friends, she cited his enthusiasm for the more radical Red Guards as an especially sore point. “Wu Yi got him,” one longtime associate of Mr. Bo said. ‘she was instrumental, saying, “I step down in March; the guy is gone before I step down.” “

Why Bo Xilai’s Chongqing Model Upset the Ruling Status Quo

Ian Johnson wrote in The New York Review of Books that Bo’s “Chongqing model” of greater state control and leftist ideology included something for almost everyone. Some were progressive, such as helping farmers, some statist, such as huge public works programs, and others pro-business, such as courting investment. Civil libertarians were unhappy because he trampled on the law in pursuit of organized crime but this is par for the course in China; the past decade has seen a steady erosion of rule of law and a rise of extra-judicial detention for government opponents or ethnic leaders.

The fact that Bo was offering these measures as a kind of systemic reform was a rebuke to the central leadership. It’s a little unfair to say that Premier Wen Jiabao and party boss Hu Jintao allowed China to stagnate during their decade in power. Since the 1990s, China has become a major player on the world stage, boasts the world’s second-largest economy, successfully hosted the Olympics, and has shown more attention to the poor by implementing rural health care, building roads to poor areas, and providing a subsistence-level welfare. But there’s a growing sense among many Chinese that their country’s government needs to undertake serious reforms. In China as elsewhere rising prosperity means rising expectations—especially for more transparency and openness, and less corruption. And all of this, of course, has been magnified through the country’s anarchic social media, like microblogging. Although under government control, these sites still pressure the government in ways that were rare in the past.

Bo’s policies in Chongqing highlighted these problems too openly. Even in his last press conference, a few days before his dismissal, he pointed out that China’s Gini coefficient—a generally recognized way of measuring economic disparity—was terrible and getting worse. The idea of having to deal with such a domineering person must have been abhorrent to the incoming leadership team of Xi Jinping (himself the son of another famous general) and Li Keqiang (a close associate of Premier Wen who is considered a technocrat meant to run the economy). Like all new Chinese leaders Xi and Li will be relatively weak and only acquire power with time; Bo would have been by far the highest-profile and most media-savvy member of the nine-man team if he had been let in.

Bo Spies on Hu Jintao and Other Top Officials

Jonathan Ansfield and Ian Johnson wrote in the New York Times: “When Hu Jintao, China’s top leader, picked up the telephone in August 2011 to talk to a senior anticorruption official visiting Chongqing, special devices detected that he was being wiretapped—by local officials in that southwestern metropolis. The discovery of that and other wiretapping led to an official investigation that helped topple Chongqing’s charismatic leader, Bo Xilai. Nearly a dozen people with party ties, speaking anonymously for fear of retribution, confirmed the wiretapping, as well as a widespread program of bugging across Chongqing. But the party’s public version of Mr. Bo’s fall omits it. [Source: Jonathan Ansfield and Ian Johnson, New York Times, April 25, 2012]

Beyond making a routine inspection, it is not clear why the disciplinary official who telephoned Mr. Hu—Ma Wen, the minister of supervision—was in Chongqing. Her high-security land link to Mr. Hu from the state guesthouse in Chongqing was monitored on Mr. Bo’s orders. The topic of the call is unknown but was probably not vital. Most phones are so unsafe that important information is often conveyed only in person or in writing. In one other instance last year, two journalists said, operatives were caught intercepting a conversation between the office of Mr. Hu and Liu Guanglei, a top party law-and-order official.” In any cases “Beijing was galled that Mr. Bo would wiretap Mr. Hu, whether intentionally or not, and turned central security and disciplinary investigators loose on his police chief, who bore the brunt of the scrutiny over the next couple of months. [Ibid]

“The hidden wiretapping was previously alluded to only in internal Communist Party accounts of the scandal. These accounts suggest that the party views the wiretapping as one of Mr. Bo’s most serious crimes. One preliminary indictment in mid-March accused Bo of damaging party unity by collecting evidence on other leaders. Party officials, however, say it would be far too damaging to make the wiretapping public. When Mr. Bo is finally charged, wiretapping is not expected to be mentioned. “The things that can be publicized are the economic problems and the killing,” according to the senior official at the government media outlet. “That’s enough to decide the matter in public.” [Ibid]

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated December 2013

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from factsanddetails.com, please contact me.