Bo Xilai

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bo Xilai

Bo Xilai, 1949–, Chinese political leader. The son of Bo Yibo, a Communist revolutionary leader, he joined the Communist party in 1980. Bo studied history at Peking Univ. and earned (1982) a master's degree in journalism from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. As mayor of Dalian, Liaoning (1993–2000), he initiated urban renewal projects and the development of a high-tech sector. He then was acting governor (2001–3) and governor (2003–4) of Liaoning, before serving as minister of commerce (2004–7) under Wen Jiabao. As Communist party chief in Chongqing (2007–12), he waged an anticorruption crusade against organized crime. Ambitious and having great personal appeal, he championed populist social and economic policies and a return to traditional Maoist values, eschewing market-based economic reforms.

In Feb., 2012, Chongqing's police chief and vice mayor, Wang Lijun, took refuge in the U.S. consultate, alleging corruption and abuse of power by Bo Xilai's family, which led to Bo's removal from most of his offices, including his politburo and central committee posts, by Apr., 2012. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, 1958–, was accused of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood (2011), which had been covered up. A successful lawyer and the daughter of General Gu Jingsheng, a prominent revolutionary, she had been involved with Heywood in business ventures, which had turned sour, and he reportedly threatened to reveal illegal activity by Bo's family. Gu admitted (2012) that she and an accomplice had killed Heywood, and she was given a suspended death sentence. Wang was convicted (2012) of abuse of power, defection, and other crimes. Bo was expelled from the party and later parliament, tried and convicted (2013) of corruption and abuse of power, and sentenced to life in prison.

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