Ever since his removal from political office last March, Bo Xilai has been waiting for his day in court. First, it was his wife Gu Kailai standing trial for the murder of a British consultant (guilty). Then his former police chief Wang Lijun stood accused of abusing his power (guilty). The third and final act will be Bo’s trial.
Last week a pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong reported that the trial would begin Monday in Guiyang. This now appears to be false. Another newspaper said that a trial would likely follow the National People’s Congress held in March. In any event, there is no reason for haste, since Bo’s political career is over.
Cynics might ask why a trial even matters, since a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion. But how the trial plays out, and the severity of the sentence, carries weight within the party, where Bo’s rise and fall resonates. It also has implications for new leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive, since this is ostensibly a story of ill-gotten gains, though it speaks more broadly to the abuse of political power in China. Xi said last week that no cadre would be spared, leading to speculation over a ‘big fish’ (or ‘tiger’) arrest.
A year ago, Bo was among the top ‘tigers’ in the Communist Party. His equivalent in China’s movie scene might well be actress Zhang Ziyi, star of ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ and ‘House of the Flying Daggers’.
Last year she was dragged unwittingly into the Bo scandal after an exiled Chinese website alleged a relationship between the two. Zhang sued over the allegation that Bo paid her for huge sums of money for sex on several occasions. The lawsuit was due to be heard last Friday at a district court in Los Angeles, but was postponed for unclear reasons.
Boxun’s publisher has refused to remove the offending story and said that he has multiple sources to back up hisallegation, which was quickly relayed by Hong Kong’s scandal-hungry Apple Daily. Zhang’s subsequent lawsuit ensured that the allegations got an international hearing. The publisher has tried to invoke California’s anti-SLAPP law to stop Zhang’s suit. If it goes to trial, this case will hold more surprises than Bo’s.
Written by: Simon Montlake