Bo Xilai’s Legacy and The Rule of Law

Sources told the South China Morning Post that an angry Bo Xilai is appealing Sunday’s guilty verdict:

The fallen princeling erupted in anger when the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court in Shandong found him guilty of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power on Sunday. He yelled that the court decision was not fair and was not based on facts, another witness told the South China Morning Post on Sunday.

The two sources said the 64-year-old informed the court on Sunday afternoon of his request for an appeal when receiving the official verdict.

“He was forcibly taken away by the court’s guards and didn’t get a chance to make an appeal inside the courthouse,” said one. “So he made the appeal right after the hearing.”

The other source said that Bo was anxious to make the appeal, which is likely to be heard by the Higher People’s Court of Shandong behind closed doors. [Source]

Will this be the last we hear of Bo? His appeal may just be a formality, but The Atlantic’s Matt Schiavenza considers a possible second act:

When a 64-year-old man receives a life sentence, odds are typically long that he’ll ever resurface. But remember: Bo will be eligible for parole in 10 years, and could be released even earlier if there’s a compelling medical reason. And even if he does serve a full decade in prison, Bo will only be 74 upon his release which, in China, makes him something of a spring chicken. Deng Xiaoping governed the country until his late eighties, and the 87-year-old ex-president Jiang Zemin retains considerable power and influence more than a decade after his “retirement.” And, if the Chinese political calendar holds to form, a new leader—perhaps one with a friendlier disposition toward Bo—will have replaced Xi Jinping by 2023. [Source]

Meanwhile, The Economist reports that while Bo will likely lose his appeal, his legacy lives on in Chongqing:

On the streets of Chongqing, there is continued support for a leader who was seen as a champion of the common man. “It doesn’t matter how corrupt he was,” says one resident. “He did good things for the people.” A Chongqing academic adds that Mr Bo did much to improve the safety of the city. “Bo Xilai’s reputation will never be destroyed,” he says.

The severity of the sentence surprised many. Mr Bo may have information that could damage China’s party chief, Xi Jinping, and other leaders, and they will want him out of the way for the rest of their ten-year term. The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, published excerpts of a letter it claims was written by Mr Bo from jail, in which he said he would “wait quietly in the prison” until his name is cleared. He may have a long wait. [Source]

The trail may have raised more questions about China’s legal system than it answered, but Stanley Lubman writes in The Wall Street Journal that it made one thing clear: “that the Party still controls the Law.”

See also previous CDT coverage of the Bo verdict.

September 26, 2013 7:43 PM
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Categories: Law, Politics