Bo Xilai with his wife Gu Kailai in happier times.
The axe has fallen… on the head of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai‘s (薄熙来). The once-rising star has been removed from both the Politburo and the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, said Xinhua News Agency in a report that has sounded the death knell for his political career.
Bo’s suspension was a result of “serious discipline violations”, said the state-owned news agency, and is now under investigation conducted by the Central Commission of Discipline Inspection, the party’s discipline enforcement organ.
In a separate report, Xinhua also said that Bo’s wife Gu Kailai is “highly suspected” to have committed the “crime of intentional homicide” against Neil Heywood, the British citizen who who died under mysterious circumstances last year.
The Chinese government has, on the request of the United Kingdom, opened an investigation into the death of the Briton.
The Xinhua report said, “According to investigation results, Bogu Kailai, wife of Comrade Bo Xilai, and their son were in good terms with Heywood. However, they had conflict over economic interests, which had been intensified.”
It also added, “According to senior officials from related authorities, China is a socialist country ruled by law, and the sanctity and authority of law shall not be tramped. Whoever has broken the law will be handled in accordance with law and will not be tolerated, no matter who is involved.”
Last month, a sound recording of an internal government meeting — widely believed to be real — was leaked on the Internet.
In the recording, a senior official said that Wang Lijun, the former Chongqing police chief who allegedly sought asylum at the US Consulate in Chengdu, encountered difficulties in investigating cases related to Gu and was promptly sacked by Bo without the approval of the Ministry of Public Security.
Reuters, which broke news of the latest developments hours before Xinhua, cites Zhang Mingyu, a property developer and member of the Chongqing’s People’s Congress, as saying, “In Chongqing, everybody is up and discussing this and waiting for more news… The ordinary residents are staggered. Many didn’t think the rumors could be true. They want to know what the hell has been going on.”
Beijing, in the meanwhile, has embarked on a campaign warning citizens not to believe in or circulate any “rumours.”
Universities in the capital are said to have held “emergency meetings,” in which teachers and students who are Communist Party members were given the latest updates on the Wang Lijun saga.
Given the dearth of information from official sources, however, those efforts are unlikely to quell the further spread of the “rumours”, especially when so many of them have proven to be true.
Watch Dragon TV’s report of Bo’s sacking: