Concluding a trial that has riveted China, Bo Xilai (薄熙來), a former elite Chinese Communist Party (CCP) official, attacked elements of the prosecution’s case on Monday and said his former top deputy and his wife, both of whom provided evidence against him, had a passionate relationship.
Bo said the charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power against him were deeply flawed because they depended on evidence from his wife, Gu Kailai (谷開來), and his former top deputy, Wang Lijun (王立軍), who he asserted were themselves involved with the abuses Bo was accused of committing — and with each other.
Wang and Gu “were stuck together as if by glue,” he said in his closing comments.
Bo’s final testimony added to the soap opera-like twists in a trial that provided an unusual showcase of how China manages its legal system. Bo, 64, who was stripped of his membership in China’s ruling politburo last year, is nearly certain to be found guilty. However, he was given considerable latitude to defend himself in extended and colorful testimony, according to censored transcripts of the trial that were circulated by the court and that appeared widely in state media, which praised the proceedings as progress for the rule of law in China.
The trial was carefully stage-managed by the CCP to focus on narrow criminal charges brought against Bo rather than the broader political struggle that culminated in his purge. Neither Bo nor the prosecutor referred to serious tensions that moving against a politburo member, who hailed from a prominent revolutionary clan, caused for the party during a year of political succession.
OFF THE RECORD
Bo’s oratory, starting from his defiant remarks on Thursday, may have given spectators the impression that he had freedom to speak his mind, and also won him some sympathizers. However, the trial transcripts substituted drama for completeness. Bo appeared to limit his own comments to addressing the prosecution’s claims and did not, as he might have done, use his knowledge as a party leader to reveal how the families of other powerful party leaders had amassed far more wealth than he was accused of acquiring. Sensitive remarks were struck from the record.
In previous days, testimony showed that Bo’s wife and son had taken lavish gifts from a billionaire; that Gu had told Wang, who was the police chief of Bo’s metropolitan region, Chongqing, that she poisoned a British businessman; and that Bo had punched or slapped Wang in the face after Wang confronted him with that news two months later.
The most explosive revelation of the trial came when Bo asserted in his closing speech that Wang had had a final falling out with Bo and fled to a nearby US consulate in February last year in large part because of tensions that boiled over from his infatuation with Gu. The wife and the police chief had been close for years, Bo said, ever since a young tycoon, Xu Ming (徐明), introduced Wang to Gu. Wang won Gu’s confidence when he investigated Gu’s suspicions that she had been poisoned, and he became a constant fixture in the Bo household.
“Because he and Gu Kailai were stuck together as if by glue, Gu Kailai took him at his word, and Wang Lijun infiltrated my household because of his association with Gu Kailai,” Bo said. “So now such a serious thing has occurred.”