Trial shows China eager to end Bo Xilai scandal

China's decision to try fallen politician Bo Xilai's wife for murder underscores Communist leaders' determination to draw a line under a scandal that has engulfed the party ahead of a power handover, analysts say.

China announced Thursday that Bo's wife Gu Kailai and an aide to the couple had been charged with poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood, who was found dead in a hotel room in the southwestern city of Chongqing last November.

It was the latest development in a sensational case that has brought down one of the country's most high-profile political leaders and exposed deep divisions in the ruling Communist party ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership handover.

Bo, the son of a revered Communist revolutionary, won national fame with a draconian crackdown on criminal elements in Chongqing and a "red revival" campaign marked by the mass singing of old Maoist-era songs.

The rapid unravelling of his fortunes earlier this year exposed a harsh factional reaction against the charismatic Chongqing party secretary, who had ambitions to join the elite nine-member group that effectively rules China.

Analysts said Thursday's announcement indicated that senior Communist chiefs, keen to settle the Bo affair before a new generation takes the reins of power later this year, had reached broad agreement on his fate.

"There won't be any more surprises. They are trying to shift the focus to Gu Kailai, so it is quite possible that Bo Xilai will not be treated harshly," said Willy Lam, a China expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"This could be out of necessity for party unity, for the sake of harmony before the party Congress."

Several academics said the announcement indicated that Bo, who is being investigated by the party for "violating party discipline" -- usually code for corruption -- would be spared criminal charges.

This was likely the result of a deal between competing factions within the party ahead of the upcoming Congress, when China's most senior officials will relinquish their party positions to a new generation of leaders, they said.

"With these cases being dealt with at this time, I expect there to be smooth sailing to the 18th Party Congress," said Boston University international relations expert Joseph Fewsmith.

"There may be some bargaining to go, but most of it has been done."

Joseph Cheng, political analyst with Hong Kong City University, said the Party's determination to present a united front before the handover meant Gu's trial would "demonstrate that the case has nothing to do with Bo Xilai".

"I think the political considerations are more important to the authorities than ensuring a fair trial," he added.

Thursday's announcement on state news agency Xinhua said there was "irrefutable and substantial" evidence that Gu had poisoned Heywood after he threatened her son following a row over "economic interests".

The British businessman reportedly had commercial dealings with Bo and his wife going back several years.

China's state-run media have positioned Bo's downfall and Gu's trial as evidence that no leader is above punishment for misdeeds, in a country where official corruption remains a major source of public discontent.

An editorial in both the English and Chinese-language editions of the state-run Global Times daily on Friday said the trial would test "whether the principle that everybody is equal before the law truly stands".

Beijing is also under pressure from London to ensure that justice is done following the murder of a British national.

But analysts said the wording of the Xinhua announcement indicated that Gu was certain to be found guilty. If convicted of murder she faces the death penalty, although this is often commuted in the case of high-profile defendants.

It is not yet clear when the trial, to be held in the eastern city of Hefei, will take place, but experts, including City University's Cheng, said it would likely be next month.

"The leadership wants to have the issue settled publicly in response to domestic and internal pressure before the Congress," he said.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • 15 wounded in attack on Philippine mosque
    15 wounded in attack on Philippine mosque

    Fifteen people including 10 police officers were wounded in an attack on a mosque on a remote Philippine island long plagued by Islamic militancy, officials said on Saturday. Successive blasts targeted a mosque on the island of Jolo -- an initial grenade attack followed by a bomb explosion that was intended to target police who rushed to the scene, local authorities said. "It seems the (first) explosion was set up to draw responders as the target," the provincial police chief Senior …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. However, there is no word yet if the Philippines will specifically ask Tokyo to join calls for China to stop its massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. …

  • CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike
    CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) appears to have released erroneous data on the allowed tuition and other fee increases in Metro Manila for the incoming academic year. On the list of the 51 approved higher education institutions (HEI) allowed to impose hikes, CHED pegged the average increase in tuition at P32.34 per unit and the average increase in other fees at P34.79. However, a Philippine STAR re-computation showed that the actual average approved tuition increases in Metro Manila …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options