Communist Party flexes muscles with purge of former favourite Bo Xilai

 

Beijing

In a powerful signal that no individual is bigger than the Communist Party, one-time rising star Bo Xilai has been expelled from its ranks and faces criminal charges related to corruption, abuse of power and his alleged role in the cover-up of the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.

There had been weeks of speculation about how the Party would resolve its biggest political crisis in decades, just ahead of a brutally tense, once-in-a-decade leadership transition. But when the statement unexpectedly appeared on the official Xinhua news agency yesterday evening, it was concise and devastating.

"Bo Xilai abused his powers of office, committed serious errors and bears a major responsibility," it said.

These "grave violations of party discipline" go all the way back to the early days of Mr Bo's rise from a cadre in Dalian and Liaoning provinces, as minister of commerce, and the southwestern city of Chongqing, where Mr Bo was Communist Party chief.

He also "had affairs and maintained improper sexual relationships with a number of women", the statement said.

The ruling party made direct links between Mr Bo and other elements in the murder of Neil Heywood in Chongqing, and said he bore "significant responsibility" for British man's death.

Mr Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief and protégé Wang Lijun, have both been jailed over the murder.

The statement said Mr Bo was being expelled from the Party and the elite decision-making Politburo and Central Committee "in view of his errors and culpability in the Wang Lijun incident and the intentional homicide case involving Bogu Kailai". Bogu is his wife's official but rarely used surname, often used to make clear the distinct connection between the two.

"Bo Xilai's behaviour brought major consequences, seriously undermined the reputation of the party and the country, creating a very negative impact at home and abroad and significantly damaging the cause of the Party and people."

The statement urged "party organisations at all levels" to take heed of the "negative example" of the Bo Xilai case.

The ruling Communist Party is cleaning house ahead of a crucial congress beginning on 8 November, when President Hu Jintao will step down as general secretary, the party's top post. He is due to resign from the presidency at a parliamentary meeting next March, ending his 10-year tenure as China's leader, and hand over the reins to Xi Jinping.

Mr Bo has not been seen in public since the scandal, and speculation is rife over how severe his punishment will be. "The earlier conventional wisdom was that he would be treated lightly. It looks like now he will face very serious corruption charges," said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, a professor at Hong Kong's Chinese University, adding that Mr Bo could serve up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

The next step will be a plenary session at the start of November, during which the details of the congress will be outlined and various planning decisions will be made, and the details of Mr Bo's misdemeanours presented to the Party faithful. A criminal case will take time to prepare, even if the guilty outcome is a foregone conclusion, and so it will most likely take place after the congress.

Mr Lam said: "Bo Xilai will have ceased to be a distraction by then so the Party has succeeded in presenting a façade of unity for the consumption of the Chinese public."

Dashing, photogenic and politically ambitious, for a couple of years Mr Bo looked like being the future of the Communist Party as he sought to leverage his position in Chongqing into a place at the top table, the Standing Committee of the governing Politburo.

But by flirting with the cult of personality, something that has been a definite no-go since the time of Mao, and by flaunting his power and wealth through his son Bo Guagua, he has eventually sealed his own fate.

By flirting with the cult of personality, Bo Xilai eventually appears to have sealed his own fate

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border