10/01/2012, 00.00
CHINA
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An embarrassed CP eager to finish quickly with Bo Xilai's trial

Former Chongqing party boss faces charges of corruption, abuse of power, sex crimes and complicity. Party leaders want everything wrapped up before the start of the party congress on 8 November, set to mark the rise of a 'fifth generation' of Communist leaders. Bo's son defends him (but is tight-lipped about his mother).

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Communist Party of China (CPC) will do everything to speed up the prosecution of former Chongqing party boss, a leading figure in the party's new left faction, before it holds it congress next month. The latter is set to mark the rise of the 'fifth generation' of Communist leaders at a time when Beijing is scrambling to limit the fallout from its worst scandal in 30 years.

After an extended period of silence, the Central Commission of the Politburo set the date of the upcoming congress for 8 November. The delay was due to the Bo scandal and the uncertainties it had created, experts say.

Bo Xilai was expelled from the party on 28 August. Now he will stand trial for corruption, abuse of power, kickbacks, sex crimes and complicity with others. With criminal charges laid, the authorities will try to ensure that trial and congress do not occur at the same time.

Under China's criminal code, Bo could get life in prison or the death penalty. His wife Gu Kailai and right hand man, Wang Lijun, have already been convicted. She was a given a suspended death sentence; he was given 15 years in prison.

Bo Xilai's downfall has sent shockwaves across the Communist power structure. Bo's politics, which combined populism, statism and Maoist revivalism, had been dubbed 'new left' and was taking him to the top of the party. He was in fact a candidate for a position in the Central Committee of the Politburo.

The poisoning death of British businessman Neil Heywood by his wife, Gu Kailai, caused a rift with his right hand man and Chongqing security chief Wang Lijun.

However, the charges levelled at Bo go beyond that. He is accused of taking bribes worth more than 20 million yuan (US$ 3.2 million) over 20 years. He is also accused of favouring business partners and using his power to take advantage of some female subordinates.

Bo Xilai's son, Guagua, is defending his father.  "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," he wrote on his Tumblr account. The younger Bo did not however mention his mother, who confessed during her trial.

Bo's son is not the only one unconvinced by the charges. Many Chinese believe that his fall from grace is a frame-up by other party factions, other princelings, led by Xi Jinping, China's future president, and loyalists of outgoing President Hu Jintao, who worked to oust him.

Hong Kong-based political observer Johnny Lau Yui-siu said the case against Bo was a charade and that talk about rule of law and due process was aimed at minimising the impact of Bo's case and setting the stage for the upcoming transition.

"I think we will see the court ruling on Bo within a month," he told the South China Morning Post.

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