A new investigative report in Hong Kong magazine New Way claims that disgraced former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai conjured three potential cover-up stories for the planned assassination of his police chief, Wang Lijun, before he turned up at the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February and revealed details of the Bo family’s involvement in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. From the Telegraph:
The first was to blame the killing on the local mafia as retaliation for the much-vaunted crime-fighting operation in the city, portraying the police chief as an anti-corruption “martyr”.
The second was to present his death as a suicide, carried out to escape punishment for his own corruption. The third was suicide caused by depression.
Mr Bo decided against the first course as too difficult to execute and the second was ruled out as he feared it would undermine the anti-crime campaign that was the backbone of his push for national power.
So he reportedly opted for the third option with the help of his allies, Xu Ming, a billionaire businessman, and Che Keming, former China National Security Agency director.
Mr Bo’s aides are said to have forged a medical history of depression for Mr Wang, leaking a supposed hospital certificate that circulated on the internet and spreading the word that the police chief had become mentally unstable.
Separately, The Telegraph dug further into Gu Kailai’s business interests and has identified a Frenchman, Patrick Henri Devillers, who ran a lucrative UK-based property firm from her personal office in Beijing and signed contracts on her behalf. While it is unclear how Mr. Devillers met Gu Kailai and what connection he had with Neil Heywood, the Telegraph reports that he likely first crossed paths with the Bo’s during Bo Xilai’s tenure as mayor of Dalian in the early 1990’s and more recently he acted as the “middle man” in Gu’s business affairs:
The firm, D2 Properties S.a.r.l, registered in Luxembourg, which in 2009 was put on G20’s “grey list” of countries with “questionable banking arrangements”, has large stakes in a series of property firms.
The 51-year-old Frenchman, whose whereabouts are unknown, claimed to be living at the address, an apartment in the Asian Games Village, overlooking the “Bird’s Nest” Olympic Stadium in Beijing.
He has used the address on all official filings to the Luxembourg authorities connected with the firm since it was set up in 2006 and it is listed as his “home” on its most recent accounts, dated 12 October 2011 – a month before Mr Heywood’s death.
But the address is also listed as the office of Horus L. Kai, the name used as an alias by Mrs Gu in dealings with Western businessman, and the original name of her law practice, which is now known as Ang Dao. The address was printed her personal business cards and registered with the Beijing Lawyer’s Association, the official body overseeing legal practices in the Chinese capital.
As Bo and his wife continue to be held in undisclosed locations as the two-pronged as investigations into their wrongdoings proceed, The New York Times reports from Chongqing that the party has rushed to implement a long-used post-purge strategy of erasing all traces Bo’s legacy:
“There is a manual on how to delete the legacies of a fallen leader, and they’ve got it down to the smallest details,” said Minxin Pei, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California.
The results have been swift and efficient. Residents say that just 15 hours after Mr. Bo’s ouster, Chongqing’s satellite television station, which he had required to broadcast only commercial-free “red culture” programming, began showing advertisements. Then came a media campaign meant to destroy his reputation.
But the party’s sudden vilification of Mr. Bo and his once-lauded projects has laid bare its thin ideological marrow. After years of instructing citizens to revere Mr. Bo, the party has aggravated public cynicism by orchestrating his hasty downfall.
“People here just don’t trust the central government,” said a local magazine journalist, who described the orders from editors to stop reporting on Mr. Bo’s accomplishments. “Now they’re telling us Bo’s a bad guy. But no government official is innocent. At least we know our lives got better after he came.”
The New York Times’ Michael Wines also writes that Bo, whose demise “has transfixed the world,” developed a reputation as a ruthless boss early in his career and earned powerful enemies at every stop along his rise:
For all his success, the seeds of Mr. Bo’s destruction were evident long ago to many of those who knew him. He was a man of prodigious charisma and deep intelligence, someone who not only possessed the family pedigree and network of allies that are crucial in Chinese politics, but who had also mastered the image-massaging and strategic use of public cash that fuel every Western politician’s rise.
But Mr. Bo’s undisputed talents were counterbalanced by what friends and critics alike say was an insatiable ambition and studied indifference to the wrecked lives that littered his path to power. Little is known about career maneuvers in China’s cloistered leadership elite, but those who study the topic say that Mr. Bo’s ruthlessness stood out, even in a system where the absence of formal rules ensures that only the strongest advance.
“Nobody really trusts him: a lot of people are scared of him, including several princelings who are supposed to be his power base,” said Cheng Li, a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington. The so-called princelings — like Mr. Bo, offspring of China’s first revolutionary leaders — remain a powerful, though fragmented, force in China’s internal politics.
“That’s just his character,” the son of one Communist Party elder, who knows Mr. Bo well, said in February. “From the county up to the Politburo, he’s a person who has to have it his way.”