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

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Jason Lee / Files / Reuters

Bo Xilai, then Chongqing party chief, waves a Chinese national flag during the opening ceremony of a revolutionary-song-singing concert in Chongqing on June 29, 2011

Li Wangzhi says he hasn’t seen his father Bo Xilai in years, but the ouster of the once high-flying Chinese politician has harmed him deeply. “This incident has destroyed my life,” Li, 34, told Bloomberg in his first public comments on the scandal. “I have no way to control how others think, but I have no desire to bask in his glow.” Li is the elder son of Bo, a former Commerce Minister who was seen as a candidate for top office until he was removed from his post as the Communist Party boss of the city of Chongqing in March. Li’s mother is Li Danyu, Bo’s first wife. Li Wangzhi told Bloomberg that his mother divorced Bo when he was child, and she has not had contact with his father for three decades. Bo later married Gu Kailai, who has been arrested on suspicion of murder in the death of Neil Heywood, a British businessman.

(MORE: The Bo Xilai Rumor Mill: Is There a Method Behind the Wild Speculation?)

Li, who spoke to Bloomberg by phone, said he was in China and not detained. His interview comes just days after his younger half-brother, Bo Guagua, broke his silence to deny allegations that he lived a playboy lifestyle. The 24-year-old Bo, who attends Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, has in recent years been one of the most high-profile offspring of China’s communist elite. He was named one of the top 10 young Chinese in Britain in 2009, and photographs of him with girls at Oxford parties have circulated widely online. The Wall Street Journal reported that he once picked up a daughter of then U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman in a red Ferrari. In a statement Tuesday to the Harvard Crimson, Bo said he had never driven a Ferrari, had a solid academic record and that his education at expensive private schools including Harvard, Oxford and Harrow had been covered by scholarships and his mother Gu’s earnings as a lawyer and a writer. (The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Bo had been hit with three traffic tickets in Massachusetts while driving a black 2011 Porsche, undercutting his effort to downplay an image of extravagance.)

Like Bo Guagua, Li has also had a top education, completing a master’s degree at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. But he has been largely absent from the spotlight, only emerging recently as the media has investigated the wealth of Bo Xilai’s family. Li had worked for Citigroup and has since been linked to Chong’er Investment & Consultancy Co., which derives its name from a prince who took his crown from his half-brother, Bloomberg reported. But Li says he hasn’t worked since February and sought to draw a line between himself and his father, telling the news service that he last saw his father in 2007 at the funeral of his grandfather, Bo Yibo, a famous Communist Party elder and comrade of Mao Zedong.

MORE: Crossing the Red Line: As the Bo Xilai Story Unfolds, a Rare Glimpse into Corruption and Political Rift at the Top