Truth and Rumor Blurred in Bo Xilai Scandal

Reuters relays new and bizarre details surrounding Gu Kailai, wife of the disgraced former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and the chief suspect in the murder investigation into British businessman Neil Heywood:

A few days after Heywood was killed in Chongqing, southwest China in November, Gu strode into a meeting of police officials wearing a military uniform and gave a rambling speech in which she told the startled officials that she was on a mission to protect the city’s police chief, Wang Lijun, the source said.

“First she said that she was under secret orders from the Ministry of Public Security to effectively protect Comrade Wang Lijun’s personal safety in Chongqing,” said the source, adding that she wore a green People’s Liberation Army (PLA) uniform with a major-general’s insignia and bristling with decorations.

“It was a mess,” he said of Gu’s speech, which circulated among some police and officials. “I reached the conclusion that she would be trouble.”

Even if Gu was somehow entitled to the uniform, which the sources doubted, the civilian setting in which she showed her apparent military rank made her performance disturbing and politically troublesome, they said.

“That was clearly a violation of disciplinary rules, a serious one,” said the first source with ties to Bo and his family, referring to talk among officials that Gu had assumed a military title. “Even her background gives her no right to do anything like that.”

Reuters adds that the alleged incident took place well before Wang Lijun began to look into Heywood’s death, a query which sparked an explosive chain of events leading to Bo’s dismissal and a leadership crisis at the top of the Chinese Communist Party. The murder of Heywood has cast a light on the role of middlemen who leverage their connections in China and abroad to facilitate business deals, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Speculation has also emerged that Chinese authorities would soon release a confession by Gu of her involvement in Heywood’s murder, according to The Australian, which reported that the official version would clear up conflicting accounts and help to support the leadership’s view of the scandal as an isolated incident. The Telegraph’s Malcom Moore writes that the latest twist in the Gu Kailai case may help to shed light on her mental state:

Since the investigation into her was announced in March, rumours have circulated in the city that she was mentally unstable, perhaps part of an attempt by the government to smear her.

In recent days, a series of ever more outlandish claims have been made about Mrs Gu, her husband, and the motive for Mr Heywood’s alleged murder. A campaign of disinformation appears to be under way, in order to smear the Bo family and fog what may actually have transpired.

However, one former official said the Communist party may now be trying to lessen Mrs Gu’s culpability by insinuating mental illness. “I had not heard this rumour, but if it is circulating, then this could be a means of exculpating her. They may be worried about the split in the party,” he said.

A Xinhua News editorial insists that the Heywood case “should not be interpreted as a political struggle,” calling out the foreign media for circulating “absurd” reports and spreading unfounded rumors about the situation:

Generally speaking, the tip-offs in the foreign reports have something in common. They lack exact sources of information, make groundless speculations and feature critical remarks about China’s political situation.

In fact, those reports made by some foreign media have been circulated long ago on some websites sponsored by the evil cult that the people despise. Isn’t it a startling anecdote in international press history that rumors from cult-run websites appear in traditional media?

The truth is, as the Chinese authorities said on April 10, that the evidence uncovered so far in the investigation of the death of British national Neil Heywood indicates that he died of homicide. Bogu Kailai, wife of former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai, and Zhang Xiaojun, an orderly at Bo’s home, are suspects in the case. Both have been transferred to judicial authorities over suspected intentional murder.