Daddy Dearest: Disgraced Chinese Politician Bo Xilai’s Son Defends Him

Bo Xilai's son Bo Guagua speaks up for the disgraced Communist Party official over social media

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Reuters

China's former Chongqing Municipality Communist Party secretary Bo Xilai, right, and his son Bo Guagua in Beijing in 2007

On Sept. 29, two days after his father was booted from China’s Communist Party and accused of a litany of transgressions — ranging from violating “party discipline” and “major responsibility” in the November 2011 murder of British business consultant Neil Heywood to receiving “huge bribes” and maintaining “improper sexual relationships with a number of women” — Bo Xilai’s son Bo Guagua released a statement defending the man whose downfall has electrified the Chinese political scene. Once considered a candidate to reach the most rarefied halls of power in China, Bo was described by his son as “upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty.” The younger Bo, 24, who earlier this year graduated from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and still lives abroad, went on: “Personally, it is hard for me to believe the allegations that were announced against my father, because they contradict everything I have come to know about him throughout my life.”

So here’s a question that points to some uncomfortable family dynamics: Why did Bo Guagua not issue a statement when his mother Gu Kailai was handed a suspended death sentence in late August for Heywood’s murder? Does the son’s defense of his father, who was most recently party secretary of the megacity of Chongqing, provide hints that Bo père will be fighting the allegations in a way that his wife did not when she admitted to her crimes at her sentencing? Xinhua, the state-run Chinese news agency, has reported that Gu was spurred into ending Heywood’s life because the British consultant, who supposedly helped shepherd Guagua into top British school Harrow, had made threats against her only son. Given that we are led to believe that Gu killed to defend her son, why didn’t he speak up on her behalf to explain how her parental loyalty had gone so very awry?

(MORE: China Announces Plans for Party Congress and Prosecution of Bo Xilai)

Bo Guagua has spent much of his life abroad, first at elite boarding schools in England, then at Oxford and Harvard. His lifestyle, complete with luxury cars, raucous parties and all those fancy Western schools, bespoke a privilege at odds with his father’s embrace of Maoist-style politics. How, wondered Bo’s detractors, could a government official with a relatively meager state salary afford such trappings for his son, especially since his high-power lawyer wife supposedly left her job years ago? The abuse of power and corruption charges now flung at Bo seem to answer that question, although it’s not as if other top Chinese leaders don’t have lavish lifestyles secured for their progeny.

Perhaps the strangest thing about the laundry list of accusations hurled at Bo was that he collected a stable of mistresses — nothing illegal in and of itself and a weakness surely shared by many other members of the Communist ruling class. In his father’s defense, Guagua sidestepped the mistress issue, a predilection so commonplace in today’s China as to make the powerful Chinese man who doesn’t have an extracurricular relationship feel like an anomaly. “He has always taught me to be my own person,” wrote Guagua, of his father, “and to have concern for causes greater than ourselves.”

(MORE: In China, Brief Murder Trial of Ex-Official’s Wife Offers Few Answers)

Guagua’s online defense came as Bo’s supporters, who advocate a return to Maoist policies as China’s best route in these economically uncertain times, rallied around the man once considered China’s most charismatic politician. Far from seeing the charges against Bo as the real reason for his removal, they have argued that the scandal was politically motivated by opponents of his leftist revival, which included mass singing of patriotic ditties and sending officials to the countryside to burnish their socialist credentials.

Bo’s political defenders haven’t been the only ones taking to the Internet. Late last month, a top Chinese forensic analyst questioned the official cause of Heywood’s death, which was attributed to cyanide poisoning. (The initial cause of death, before the Briton’s death was deemed murder, had been alcohol poisoning.) The post on Sina Weibo, China’s top microblogging site, was soon purged by Chinese censors. It said that death by cyanide can leave clues that should have alerted a competent forensic pathologist, including a reddish tinge to the corpse and unusually crimson blood. (Heywood’s body was quickly cremated after the initial alcohol-poisoning verdict.) As Bo’s trial nears, plenty of questions remain, and Guagua will no doubt have other opportunities to defend his fallen father.

MORE: Bo Xilai’s Low-Profile Elder Son Says Scandal ‘Destroyed’ His Life

12 comments
adam_onge
adam_onge

The melon kid has all the access to the foreign bank accounts and real estate owned by his parents, both of whom probably will be serving some time in jail. I would just take the money and apply for political asylum in the US.

If Guagua wants to go back to China, he should start dating Mingze Xi (daughter of the "anointed" president Xi Jinping of China) who is also a student at Harvard (Kennedy School of Government?) Marrying the emperor's daughter for peace-making and reconciliation has a long tradition in China!

By the way, Bo Xilai has another son from a previous marriage who works in an investment bank on Wall Street, I believe. Isn't he also defending his poor "red-song-singing-handsome" Daddy, now that he's down and out?

rosemaryLS
rosemaryLS

Guagua's father sweared that this kid earned full scholarship in Howard, Oxford, and the expensive Harrow School, covering expenses such as 5-star hotel, big party for his mates and etc etc.

This kid swear that his father is "upright" despite of the facts that Bo Xilai at least stole 3 million dollar from public purse, and "had and maintain improper relationship with numerous women".

like father, like son.

bridgebuilder78
bridgebuilder78

The kid needs to learn when to shut up and keep his head down.  He's still young, and it'd be terrible if something were to happen to him.

mike921
mike921

 Exactly right.  Threats to the Party are dealt with severely - little GuaGua should enjoy his pampered life - Beijing has a long reach!

Shuami
Shuami

As this article has eluded, Guagua has spent most his time growing up abroad. I would imagine he has acquired a taste for individualism and self-assurance growing up in a boarding school. He's right to speak up for what he thinks is right. As long as he's not involved in the shady deals and the plotting of the murder, I don't know why he should keep his head down. What his parents did is their business. I really hope he can overcome these adversaries and grow up to be his own man. Sometimes, you need some challenges in life to achieve that (although I have to say that this is more than a challenge).

BTW. All those swipes of fancy cars, raucous parties seemed a little, well, disingenuous. You don't go to those elite schools to be your average model student. You spend all those big bucks to be part of the life there. And some of those are prerequisites for your future lawyers, bankers, diplomats or what have you.

bridgebuilder78
bridgebuilder78

Oh god, you are impossibly uninformed. There once was a certain Chinese man who incurred the ire of the Politburo. He was in hiding in North America for years, until he relaxed a bit and decided to lounge around on a South American beach. It was there he was shot in the head by an unknown assailant with remarkable marksmanship.

bridgebuilder78
bridgebuilder78

You know, the Chinese government accused Mr. Bo Xilai with transferring billions of dollars overseas. That's Billions with a B. You don't think Mr. Guagua might have some of that dough? Besides, this whole Bo Xilai affair has embarrassed the Politburo to no end, with a murder, an attempted defection, and astronomical embezzlement, the last thing the Mandarin Gods in Beijing need is a little twit mouthing off when the Politburo is looking to move on. So yeah, I'd say the kid needs to STFU before he gets popped.

Shuami
Shuami

I googled it. Looks like Yu Qiangsheng did cross China big time. Any government who has someone did stuff like that to them would want the guy gone, not just China. Besides, people like that run risk of all kinds of people who want him dead, not just the one he crossed--so whoever actually did him in is still a question mark. Don't think Guagua's case is like that, though.

Shuami
Shuami

Who was that? Anywhere we can find some reference to it? In other words, where did you get this story?

jenny876
jenny876

imagine if your father was treated like this