The still-incredible story of Bo Xilai

Bo Xilai

Bo Xilai was China’s most (or only?) charismatic politician

Bo Xilai, former party chief of Chongqing and once the main political rival to Xi Jinping, has not been in the news much since he was sentenced to life in prison in 2013.

That didn’t stop the BBC from running a podcast series last March that retells the scarcely believable story of Bo’s high-flying career and spectacular downfall – complete with all the staples of a potboiler thriller, such as political intrigue, money laundering, infidelity, a desperate visit to the US consulate by a beleaguered Chinese official, and – of course – the murder of a shady British businessman. Also, dodgy deals involving helium balloons. China has never been more interesting since.

You can read a text version here. Excerpt:

But in China, no politician can go after the rich and well-connected without the support of the chief of police. For this role, Bo had found the perfect partner, a man both ruthless and daring – Wang Lijun.

Wang arrived at crime scenes brandishing weapons and surrounded by TV cameras. He even had his own show – Iron-Blooded Police Spirit – which dramatised his life fighting crime.

And it gets weirder. Wang Lijun attended executions, sources tell me, supervised the harvesting of prisoners’ organs and even conducted his own post-mortem examinations.

“Wang and Bo were very similar. Both of them liked to do things on an epic scale, they liked to make headlines. Put them together and it was an explosive mix,” says Li Zhuang.

“Both of them were crazy. And the atmosphere they created was frenzied, intense… it was insane. Chongqing was a police kingdom.”

Some Wang Lijun photos I dug up on the internet:

Wang Lijun inspects the Chongqing police force in early 2012

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *