Home Contact Us  

China - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4054, 25 July 2013
Bo Xilai: China's Trial of the Century
Namrata Hasija
Senior Research Officer, CRP, IPCS
Email: namrata@ipcs.org

Bo Xilai has been formally charged with bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power today according to Jinan City People’s Procuratorate in east China’s Shandong province. The indictment paper delivered to the Jinan City Intermediate People’s Court today has again brought what has been named ‘China’s Trial of the Century’ into the limelight.
What exactly are the charges framed against Bo Xilai? What does this say for the measures that the Party is taking to combat internal factionalism and corruption?

The Case
The now infamous case unfolded with the flight of Bo’s police chief, Wang Lijun, to the US consulate in Chengdu. The case got murkier after revelations that the reason for the fallout between the two was that Bo was forcing Wang to cover up his wife’s involvement in the murder of Neil Heywood. Gu Kailai was subsequently convicted in August and has been given a suspended death sentence for her involvement in the case. Wang Lijun was convicted in September 2012 to 15 years in prison.

Bo has been in detention since April 2012 but it is only now that charges have been finally levied against him for embezzling RMB 5 million and for taking RMB 20 million in bribes via his wife, thereby abusing his powers. By law, the indictment papers are required to be delivered to the defendant at least 10 days prior to the trial, thus indicating that it might take place in the first half of August 2013.

The Bo Xilai Trial: The Larger Picture
Bo Xilai, a hardliner, was known for his strict anti-corruption campaign and his revival of the collectivist spirit of Mao, during his tenure as Chief of Chongqing, had earned the ire of many within the Party ranks. His arrest further revealed fissures between the hardliners and reformers within the party, especially when Wen Jiabao openly criticised him in 2012 for trying to revive Mao’s ideology against the consensus the CPC had adopted in 1978 to draw the line over the Cultural Revolution. The choice of Jinan as the place for the trial also indicates that the party wanted it to take place in a city which had no connection to the case and also where the party officials are somewhat neutral towards Bo.

The delay in the trial was a result of this struggle as many within the party were not in favour of punishing him severely. This being said, there are no mention of charges relating to his term as the chief of Chongqing as the document stated charges related to his term as mayor of Dalain (1993-2000) and Commerce Minister (2004-2007). This indicates some kind of tacit settlement within the party factions as far as Bo Xilai’s fate is concerned. The statements from senior party officials of late about disunity being harmful for the party and Jiang Zemin’s (who was close to Bo Xilai) praise for Xi Jinping’s leadership on a public platform indicates the same. According to Willy Lam, political expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the leaders have reached a settlement of sentencing Bo Xilai to around 17-18 years of house arrest. He also stated that there is an unwritten law that members of the Politburo would never be awarded a death sentence or a suspended death sentence as was given to Bo Xilai’s wife.

China’s censors have also temporarily lifted the ban on Bo’s name indicating that the leaders want the public to know that he has been charged and will face the consequences of his alleged crimes. “We must have the resolve to fight every corrupt phenomenon, punish every corrupt official and constantly eliminate the soil which breeds corruption, so as to earn people's trust with actual results” were Xi Jinping’s words when he took the resolve to fight corruption. China’s new leadership is trying hard to maintain a balance between the two factions within the party and at the same time satisfy public demands for justice against corrupt officials. Last month Liu Zhijun, a former Railways Minister was given a suspended death sentence for abuse of power and taking 64.6 million yuan in bribes. This sends out a clear message to other corrupt officials that they are not immune from investigation and prosecution if suspected of graft or corruption.

The Bo Xilai affair had shaken the party and also revealed the factions and rampant corruption within the party ranks. Xi Jinping’s decision to get over with the trial before the plenum meeting in the fall where the party’s plan to reform country’s economy and slow growth would be discussed shows that the top leadership wants to put this case behind them. It also shows that new leadership understood that unnecessarily dragging this case would make it difficult for them to unite different factions within the party and foster a façade of unity.


Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Narayani Basu,
"The Rise and Fall of Bo Xilai," 2 May 2012

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
China: Bo Xilai Inspires a New Party?

Nalanda University as a Cultural and Educational Bridge

China: New Urbanisation Plans

China: Child Abduction and Trafficking

China: A Source of Cyber Attacks?

China: The Plight of Sex Workers

China: The Outbreak of Bird Flu 2013

China: Environmental Degradation and Government Response

China: Reformed Labour Camps?

China: Sweeping Hukou Reforms?

China: Surge in Sex Scandals

China’s Wukan Uprising: Is the Honeymoon Over?

China: Human Flesh Search Engines

Christianity in China: Changing Domestic Attitudes?

China’s One-Child Policy: The Debate Revives

China: Voices of Dissent

China's Wukan Uprising: First Step towards Democracy?

Chinawood: Not yet up to Hollywood?

Chinese Black Jails: 'An Alleyway in Hell'?

Widening Gender Imbalance in China

Rising Suicide Rates among Rural Women in China

Red Tourism: A Thriving Economic Industry or a Tool for Ideological Propaganda?

Li Na and China: Sports as Soft Power?

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.