Beijing (AsiaNews) - Bo Xilai, former Chongqing party chief, has been expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) over kickbacks and his links to the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, which led to the conviction of his wife and of his former right hand man. The party also decided to refer his case to the proper legal authorities for trial.
The official Xinhua news agency published the party's statement. Bo, the latter said, "abused his powers of office, committed serious errors and bears a major responsibility". His "actions created grave repercussions, and massively damaged the reputation of the party and the state".
Through s combination of populism, statism and Maoist revival, Bo was rising to the top of the party's echelon, and was expected to join the Central Committee of the Politburo.
When Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had British businessman poisoned, there was a falling out with his right hand man, Chongqing Public Security Bureau (PSB) Chief Wang Lijun.
According to Xinhua's report on the murder, Wang first tried to cover up the murder; then confronted Bo with it, who rebuked and slapped him.
Fearing for his life, Wang fled to Chengdu, asking for asylum at the US Consulate, where he revealed what had happened.
At this point, China's leaders could not pull back. Wang and Gu Kailai were taken into custody and Bo was forced to resign, revealing one of the worst scandals of the past 30 years.
Bo Xilai's name was never mentioned during the trials involving Gu and Wang (and four accomplices, all police officers), who were respectively sentenced to death (suspended) for the murder and 15 years in prison for the cover-up. Only during Wang Lijun's trial was Bo indirectly cited as the former Chongqing party chief.
Complicating matters, a Chinese forensic scientist has cast doubt on the official version of the death of the British businessman, especially the use of cyanide. She said that no evidence of poisoning was presented, nor was the autopsy report made public. From what was said, she concluded that the body did not show any sign of cyanide poisoning.
Many people in China believe that Bo was the victim of a plot designed to remove him and his supporters from Chinese politics.
"Bo did a lot of good things," a source told AsiaNews, "including doggedly going after organised crime syndicates in Chongqing. Did he make some mistakes? Who hasn't? I think they set him up."
In an editorial, Xinhua dismissed such allegations, calling them nonsense, insisting that the party is putting its house in order.
Meanwhile, after months of waiting, the Communist Party announced the date of its 18th congress, set to start on 8 November.
If everything goes according to script, the party's 'fifth generation' should take over with Xi Jinping replacing Hu Jintao and Li Keqiang doing the same for Wen Jiabao.
A turnover in personnel is also expected when the People's National Congress meets in March 2013.
Thus, the party will be able to continue its rule.