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Crime & Corruption

China charges Bo Xilai with corruption, paves way for trial


Bo Xilai

Bo Xilai

China charged disgraced senior politician Bo Xilai with bribery, abuse of power and corruption on Thursday, paving the way for a potentially divisive trial that President Xi Jinping will want smoothly handled as he pushes major economic reforms.

Bo, 64, could appear in a court in the eastern city of Jinan in Shandong province within weeks, capping the country’s biggest political scandal since the 1976 downfall of the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution. He has not been seen in public for 17 months.

Xi, who formally took power in March, will be eager to put the Bo scandal behind him and have unstinted support from the Communist Party as he embarks on an ambitious rebalancing of the world’s second-largest economy.

But the trial of Bo, a charismatic and well-loved leader to some and a power-hungry politician to others, could sharpen rifts.

Bo’s ouster exposed deep disagreements in the party between his leftist backers, who are nostalgic for the revolutionary era of Mao Zedong, and reformers, who advocate faster political and economic reforms.

Bo committed serious crimes and will be indicted on the charges of bribery, embezzlement and power abuse, state news agency Xinhua quoted the indictment as saying. He had been informed of his legal rights and interviewed by prosecutors, it said.

Bo, as a civil servant, took advantage of his position to seek profits for others and accepted an “extremely large amount” of money and properties, Xinhua said.

“No matter who you are, whether you have a high or low position, you will be severely punished if you break the law,” state media cited Friday’s People’s Daily as saying in an editorial.

“Bo Xilai’s indictment again shows that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law … and nobody has special rights,” it said.

Bo is certain to be found guilty. His wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have both been convicted and jailed over the scandal, which stems from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The government in September last year accused Bo of corruption and of bending the law to hush up the murder.

China’s prosecutors and courts come under Communist Party control and they are unlikely to challenge the party’s previous accusations.

Still, there were no really explosive charges, like plotting a coup, indicating the party wants to move on and not let Bo distract or deeply split them, said Joseph Cheng, a political scientist at Hong Kong’s City University.

“This tells us there has been a lot of lobbying behind the scenes to perhaps protect Bo from the death penalty and also limit any broader damage,” Cheng said. “I think the authorities would like to keep this low profile.”

State television’s main evening news focused on the clean-up after an earthquake this week in remote Gansu province, in contrast to some previous announcements on the Bo case which topped the widely watched bulletin.

“MISTAKES ARE MISTAKES”

But the government does appear concerned about the public reaction to Bo and any fallout, and Xinhua called on people to support the Communist Party’s decision.

“Often after problematic officials are rooted out, we see the media looking back wistfully at their time in office saying how they dedicated themselves to the people,” the agency said in a commentary about the charges against Bo. “Success may be success, but mistakes are mistakes.”

Xi, however, has shown no sign of any anxiety, appearing relaxed during a tour of central Hubei province this week, where he called for a deepening of reforms to meet economic challenges.

“The higher levels in the party will most probably already have reached a compromise about Bo Xilai so as not to harm the party’s fundamental interests or allow there to be any challenges to the new leadership team,” said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator and historian.

Many analysts say it is unlikely Bo would receive the death penalty. They expect the court to hand down a suspended death sentence, which effectively means life in prison, although the term can be reduced to 15 or 20 years.

“It would be immensely controversial if they executed him, it’ll be inconsistent with Xi Jinping’s efforts to move people forward and unite people and calm things down,” Jerome Cohen, a law professor from New York University and an expert in Chinese law, said before the indictment.

Prosecutors in Jinan indicted Bo, Xinhua said, meaning the trial will take place there.

Bo’s lawyers, Li Guifang and Wang Zhaofeng, did not respond to request for comment. Government and court officials in Jinan could not be reached.

About two dozen uniformed and plainclothes police officers hovered around the gates of the main courthouse in Jinan, but there were no signs that the trial was imminent.

Xinhua did not say when Bo’s trial would start. But according to Chinese law, charges must be served to the defendant and lawyers at least 10 days before a trial begins.

A source with direct knowledge of the case said no definite time had been set for the trial.

TEST OF REFORM

Since becoming Communist Party boss in November, and president in March, Xi has made battling corruption a key objective of his administration, warning that the problem is so severe it could threaten the party’s survival.

Analysts say how the trial will be carried out will reflect the government’s willingness to promote legal reform.

“If the trial is extremely cursory and raises more questions than answers, it will be a bad signal for legal reform and the role the party intends to give to the law,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“If someone is tried in a very suspicious manner, people will draw a conclusion that this was a political fight that this person lost and was disposed of.”

After his appointment as party chief of Chongqing in 2007, Bo turned it into a showcase of revolution-inspired “red” culture and his policies for egalitarian, state-led growth. He also won national attention with a crackdown on organised crime.

His brash self-promotion irked some leaders. But his populist ways and crime clean-up were welcomed by many of Chongqing’s 30 million residents, as well as others who hoped that Bo could take his leftist-shaded policies nationwide.

Bo has been accused of receiving more than 20 million yuan ($3.26 million) in bribes and embezzling another 5 million yuan, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday. That is about a third of the amount the government accused former railways minister, Liu Zhijun, of accepting in bribes. Liu was given a suspended death sentence this month.

Source: Reuters “China charges Bo Xilai with corruption, paves way for trial”
 
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About chankaiyee2

Author of the book "Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements" about how with the help of Tiananmen Protests, talented scholars with moral integrity seized power in the Party and state and brought prosperity to China. The second edition of the book will be published within a few days to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Protests All the parts in the first edition remain in the second edition with a few changes due to information available later and better understanding. There are also some changes for improvements of style. The new parts are Chapters 12-19 on events in China after the first edition was published: The fierce power struggle for succession between reformists and conservatives; Xi Jinping winning all elders’ support during his mysterious disappearance for 2 weeks in early September, 2012; and Xi Jinping Cyclone. Chan Kai Yee's new book: SPACE ERA STRATEGY: The Way China Beats The US An eye-opening book that tells the truth how the US is losing to China. The US is losing as it adopts the outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle while China adopts the space era strategy to pursue integrated space and air capabilities: It is losing due to its diplomacy that has given rise to Russian-Chinese alliance. US outdated strategy has enabled China to catch up and surpass the US in key weapons: Hypersonic weapons (HGV) that Pentagon regards as the weapon that will dominate the world in the future. Aerospaceplane in China’s development of space-air bomber that can engage enemy anywhere in the world within an hour and destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group within minutes. Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, anti-ASAT weapons, stealth aircrafts, drones, AEW&C, etc. The book gives detailed descriptions of China’s weapon development based on information mainly from Chinese sources that the author monitors closely. U.S. Must Not Be Beaten by China! China is not a democracy. Its political system cannot prevent the emergence of a despotic leader or stop such a leader when he begins to bring disasters to people. A few decades ago, Mao Zedong, the worst tyrant in world history did emerge and bring disasters to Chinese people. He wanted to fight a nuclear war to replace capitalism with communism but could not bring nuclear holocaust to world people as China was too weak and poor at that time. If a despot like Mao Zedong emerges when China has surpassed the US in military strength, world people will suffer the misery experienced by Chinese people in Mao era. China surpassing the US in GDP is not something to worry about as China has the heavy burden to satisfy its huge population, but China surpassing the US in military strength will be world people’s greatest concern if China remains an autocracy. US people are of much better quality than Chinese people. What they lack is a wise leader to adopt the correct strategy and diplomacy and the creative ways to use its resources in developing its military capabilities. I hope that with the emergence of a great leader, the US can put an end to its decline and remain number one in the world. China, US, space era strategy, air-sea battle, space-air bomber, arms race, weapon development, chan kai yee

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