China's Communist Party has put on a forceful display of unity by expelling Bo Xilai, state media said Saturday, but web users denounced the case as a sign of deep-rooted corruption plaguing the ruling party.
China said Friday that the disgraced politician at the centre of a scandal that rocked the party ahead of a once-a-decade leadership transition will "face justice" for crimes including abuse of power and improper sexual relations.
It was an unprecedented harsh public rebuke for a Chinese Communist official as authorities looked to lay to rest the damaging episode that shocked China and saw Bo's wife convicted of murder.
The decision "demonstrates the ability of the Chinese communist party's central committee to reach a consensus on major issues", a commentary in the state-run Global Times daily said.
"The decisions once again prove the certainty of Chinese politics," it added.
The comments come after widespread speculation that the party was seriously divided over how to handle the case of Bo, the party boss of southwestern Chongqing city seen as a candidate for promotion to the party's top echelons.
China's official Xinhua news agency framed Bo's criminal trial as a warning to Communist party officials to "obey party discipline", a phrase which implies keeping consensus with decisions issued by China's top-leaders.
"Bo Xilai, as a high-level official should be a model of protection of party discipline, and strictly carry out the orders of the central committee," Xinhua said.
"Party leader-level officials should... be cautious in the face of party discipline, cautious, and again cautious, not to step over the line," it added.
But commentators on Sina Weibo -- a social media platform similar to Twitter -- said that the accusations against Bo highlight the communist party's persistent failure to root-out corruption.
"The announcement says that over 20 years of breaking the rules Bo was constantly promoted. Doesn't that show that the party has no clear system for dealing with corruption?" said one Weibo user.
"Bo stands accused of making errors in promoting staff, but he himself was consistently promoted despite his accumulation of crimes. Who really made the errors?" wrote another Weibo user.
Friday's announcement now likely sets the stage for what will be a highly anticipated yet secretive closed-door trial for Bo as the Communist Party gears up for a pivotal congress to select its new leadership on November 8.
Xinhua said that Bo, who had been a member of the powerful Politburo, was stripped of his party membership and positions, a step that in China clears the way for wayward Communist officials to be formally prosecuted.