Bo Scandal Heats Up Over Wife’s Relations

Reuters digs deeper into the relationship between Gu Kailai and the Frenchman who reportedly acted as a “middle man” in her business affairs, suggesting that Patrick Henri Devillers may have played a key role in the Bo scandal and the death of Neil Heywood:

Until now, only Heywood was alleged to have also had a close personal relationship with Bo’s glamorous wife, Gu Kailai – a factor that has led Chinese police to treat his murder as one where intense feelings of betrayal played a part. Gu is alleged to have poisoned Heywood in November after a row over money.

But one man who knew Heywood and Devillers during the pair’s association with the Bo family said Devillers had shown much more affection and intimacy towards Gu than Heywood had done, and that he had assumed Gu and the Frenchman were lovers.

“Heywood was an interesting and amusing character,” said UK businessman Giles Hall. But he added, “Devillers was the one who used to pat her on the back and put his arm around her in a restaurant. They were definitely, I would have said, an item.”

The suspicion Devillers had a romantic link with Gu – in addition to business ties – suggests the Frenchman could be more than a peripheral figure in the Bo scandal, details of which are sketchy. The police case against Gu has not been made public.

The connection between Devillers and Gu Kailai adds yet another layer to a scandal which has spilled into the tabloids and taken on the characteristics of a Hollywood thriller, with the now-deposed Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai at the center. Keisuke Udagawa, a conservative Japanese political commentator and longtime friend of the Bo family, told a Japanese tabloid that he was allowed to meet and dine with Bo in Beijing in late April after the one-time Politburo Standing Committee hopeful had been detained. The Telegraph has more on the “stunning contents” of Udagawa’s claims:

They were accompanied by two translators, including one from the national security bureau, while two police officers stood outside the room, according to his version.

Mr Bo did not deny reports that his wife arranged for Mr Heywood to be killed after a bitter falling-out in a financial dispute, he said.

He also reportedly told Mr Udagawa that he wished he had divorced Mrs Gu in 2000, when the couple nearly split, but that they stayed together for political appearances and for their son, Bo Guagua.

Mr Bo said that he had been framed by the enemies he made during his controversial anti-corruption crackdown while he was mayor of Chongqing. He denied that his downfall was the result of a party power struggle.

The Financial Times’ Geoff Dyer writes for Foreign Policy that as the Bo saga continues, it will become more difficult to separate fact from fiction as we search for hints about the political implications for a Party in transition:

But as the scandal moves from the immediate circumstances to the broader political fallout, the Bo case could become harder to report. Political stories in China can be like quicksand. White House reporters might not get to talk too often to the president, but they can speak to people who were in the room with him when he makes a decision. In China, foreign reporters have to rely on more removed sources: advisors, Chinese journalists, foreigners who have recently met senior leaders, and lower-level bureaucrats. All sources have an agenda, but the more tenuous their link to power, the harder it can be to decode their bias — or assess their credibility. Even with reporting on Bo’s fall, stories about his phone-tapping antics and links to the death of Heywood depended heavily on anonymous sources. Trying to gauge the political machinations of a group of a few dozen standing committee members, kingmakers, and PLA generals is at best an imperfect task when much of the information is coming third-hand.