Purged Chinese Official’s Son Denies Tales of Extravagance: ‘I Have Never Driven a Ferrari’

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Bo Guagua, son of China's former Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai, is seen in Beijing in this January 6, 2006 file photo.

Bo Guagua, the son of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, says that his high-priced overseas education was funded by scholarships and his mother’s work as a lawyer and denied reports that he drove a Ferrari to the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Beijing. His written statement to the Harvard Crimson doesn’t directly address the charges directed at his father, who is accused “serious discipline violations” by China’s ruling Communist Party, and his mother, Gu Kailai, who has been arrested for murder in connection with the death of a British businessman in China. Instead Bo Guagua, who is a 24-year-old student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, sought to address some of the most significant questions about himself.

(MORE: How Bo Xilai’s Fall Will Affect China’s Leadership Transition)

He stated that his expensive private school education—he attend Harrow School, Oxford and now Harvard—was funded by scholarships and income earned by his mother as a lawyer and author. His schooling has raised suspicions about how it could have been funded by his father’s government salary of about $1,600 a month. Bo said that his academic record, which had been questioned in the British press, was respectable. He sought to minimize his reputation as a bon vivant, saying merely that participated in social events that were “a regular feature of social life at Oxford and most students take part in these college-wide activities.” And he denied the most colorful story about him, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, that he drove a red Ferrari to meet a daughter of the then-U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman for dinner. “I have never driven a Ferrari. I have also not been to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing since 1998 (when I obtained a previous U.S. Visa), nor have I ever been to the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in China,” Bo wrote.

Bo Guagua’s statement is the first public response from the Bo family since March 15, when Bo Xilai was removed from his post his Communist Party secretary of Chongqing, a municipality in southwest China. In a press conference days before his removal Bo Xilai offered a similar defense to his son’s, saying that Bo Guagua’s education had been covered by scholarships, that he had never driven around Beijing in a Ferrari and that critics had sought to “pour filth on me and my family.” His comments then did little to slow his downfall or dampen the surrounding media frenzy. And it seems unlikely Bo Guagua’s carefully crafted statement will stop the flood of questions about his lifestyle either.

MORE: Fall of Bo Xilai Signals Change in China’s Growth Model