The son of Bo Xilai, the disgraced Chinese politician brought down by the scandal surrounding the murder of the British businessman Neil Heywood, has denied reports that he has led a life of extravagance as a student at Harrow and Oxford, and now at Harvard.
Bo Guagua, 24, who is enrolled at the Harvard Kennedy School, responded to a series of media articles questioning the source of the money that allowed him to attend such elite institutions in Britain and America and, according to some reports, lead a playboy lifestyle of fast cars and parties.
"Recently, there has been increasing attention from the press on my private life," Mr Bo wrote in a letter to Harvard Crimson, the university's student newspaper. "As a result of these speculations, I feel responsible to the public to provide an account of the facts."
He denied ever driving a Ferrari, as has been claimed, and said his education was funded through scholarships and his mother's savings. He said he was "deeply concerned" about his family. His father, the former Chongqing Communist Party chief and member of China's powerful Politburo, is under investigation, and his mother, Gu Kilai, is in custody in connection with the mysterious death of Mr Heywood.
The Old Harrovian was found dead in a hotel room in Chongqing, southwest China, a municipality formerly run by Mr Bo Snr. He and his wife are known to have had business dealings with Mr Heywood. Recent media reports have said he was poisoned.
The Bo affair has ignited suspicions of corruption at the highest levels of the Communist Party. It is partly for this reason that questions have arisen about where the money for Bo Guagua's top-flight education came from.
The unexpected pleading from Bo Guagua came as the Chinese government cracked down on social media inside China, in response to online rumours which have mounted since the arrest of his father. The Chinese government is ensuring that online and traditional media services make no mention of the ongoing investigation into the Bo family scandal, which has become China's most unsettling political upheaval in decades. The official news service, Xinhua, is not included in the blackout.
Sina.com, the operator of Weibo, China's leading social network, shut four user accounts for spreading rumours concerning the scandal.
"Recently, some lawbreakers have made use of Weibo to without reason fabricate and spread malicious political rumours, producing a bad influence on society," Sina said in an announcement to its more than 300 million users.
One of the four accounts belonged to Li Delin, a writer for the business magazine Capital Week, whose postings about military vehicles in Beijing sparked rumours of a coup. A friend of his posted a message online yesterday alleging that Mr Li had disappeared.