By Erik Crouch
The disgraced Chongqing politician’s name hasn’t made headlines for about three weeks, after excitement over his looming trial proved premature. Now, almost exactly a year after the Bo Xilai scandal first broke, sources have reported that the still-imprisoned, still-untried former politician is refusing to cooperate with authorities, has gone on hunger strike, and—details remain fuzzy, as per usual with this case—was “at one point treated in a hospital.”
Reuters broke the story on February 21. A source told reporters that Bo had gone on hunger strike on two occasions, for untold amounts of time. The party leadership held a public (show) trial for Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, in August. If they intend to do the same for Bo, they will likely have to wait: the Reuters report stated that “Bo’s trial was likely to be delayed until after an annual full session of parliament and its top advisory body in March because he was not physically fit.”
Imprisoning a former national figure without trial is one thing, but holding the trial with an emaciated Bo Xilai would likely be worse for the Party. Details from the Reuters report do not bode well for a trial any time soon:
“His beard is long, chest-length,” the source said.
“He refused to cooperate,” the source said. “He wouldn’t answer questions and slammed his fist on a table and told them they were not qualified to question him and to go away.”[…]
“This is not good for the party’s image. They have not thought about this clearly. If they are able to properly deal with a big shot like Bo Xilai then they will increase people’s trust in the party,” he added.
The Reuters source maintains that Bo has not been mistreated while under custody. South China Morning Post calls the Bo Xilai scandal “the most sensational case of elite political turmoil in China since the fall of the Gang of Four after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976.” As details continue to come out, it looks as though a public (show) trial will have to wait until Bo Xilai is more willing to cooperate, or until public discontent over the case reaches unacceptable levels. (Probably the former.)