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Bo faces threat of death penalty

Bo Xilai©Getty
China’s rulers have put on a forceful show of unity after the country’s biggest political scandal in decades, kicking Bo Xilai out of the Communist party and making myriad accusations that could lead to the death penalty for the disgraced one-time high-flying politician.
The announcement that the former party secretary of Chongqing has been accused of taking bribes, improper sexual relations with multiple women and other unspecified crimes comes six months after he was purged following revelations that his wife had murdered a British businessman.

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Ths list was unexpectedly extensive. Some observers had thought that the government might hand Mr Bo only a light punishment because he was one of the country’s most popular politicians and his father was a revered revolutionary leader.
The Communist party is now expected to close its most damaging crisis since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre before the critical congress at which power will be transferred to China’s next generation of leaders. The Xinhua news agency announced on Friday that this would be held on November 8.
Mr Bo’s populist streak and penchant for Maoist nostalgia had made him a threat to the cautious, technocratic, consensus-driven style of leadership that has been at the heart of China’s political model since the 1990s.
His open challenge for a top national position came undone in a dramatic blaze this year when his Chongqing police chief fled to a US consulate alleging that Mr Bo had covered up the murder of Neil Heywood orchestrated by his wife Gu Kailai.
Xinhua said the congress would start on November 8, just two days after the US presidential election. Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are all but certain to take over from Hu Jintao, president, and Wen Jiabao, premier, who have governed since 2002.
Cheng Li, an expert on Chinese politics at the Brookings Institute in Washington, said the accusations against Mr Bo were “very, very serious” and that Mr Bo might receive the same punishment as his wife: a death sentence commuted to life in prison.
The Bo case has cast a long shadow over the succession plans. Party insiders said officials wanted to reach a consensus about how to deal with Mr Bo before proceeding with the congress, hence the delay in announcing a date.

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Gu has already been found guilty ofmurdering Neil Heywood, the UK businessman. But Mr Bo has not been seen or heard from since April when he was accused of violating party discipline.
Xinhua said that in the aftermath of the Heywood murder, Mr Bo had “abused his powers of office and committed serious errors and bears a major responsibility”.
Beyond that case, Xinhua said there was evidence that Mr Bo had consistently violated party discipline over the years, extending back to his time as chief of the north-eastern city of Dalian and as the country’s commerce minister.
“Bo Xilai’s actions had grave repercussions, and massively damaged the reputation of the party and the state,” it said.
In highlighting a series of crimes throughout his career, the Xinhua statement suggests that he will be dealt with harshly and could even face the death penalty.
Next to the drama of Mr Bo’s case, the party congress in November will appear a staid affair, with speeches full of generalities and no outward indications of any disagreements. But it will be extremely important, ushering in Mr Xi and Mr Li as China’s two most powerful leaders for the next decade.

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Chinese Leadership
Profiles of leading contenders to be appointed to the standing committee, the core of the Communist party, or the 25-member politburo
The congress will also introduce the newpolitburo standing committee, which in effect is China’s top ruling body. Apart from Mr Xi and Mr Li, the composition and even the size of the standing committee remain in doubt.
For the past decade, China has governed with a nine-member standing committee, but there has been talk that it could be pared back to seven to ease decision making. Even if the politburo were shrunk, a range of party officials without seats would still wield great influence.
The outgoing Mr Hu, for example, could retain chairmanship of the central military commission for several years, making him China’s commander-in-chief.
Mr Hu is also believed to be trying to stock the politburo with his acolytes, as previous leaders have done, to retain informal sway.
Whatever the precise shape of China’s new leadership, the government will have a lengthening list of contentious economic, political and social issues on its hands.
The economy is on track for its slowest growth in more than a decade this year and there are signs that it could deteriorate further next year.
Internationally, China’s development has benefited from a relatively benign regional environment for decades, but a clash with Japan over disputed islands in recent weeks and increasing animosity with neighbours in south-east Asia could scupper that.
At home, a more prosperous and educated population is clamouring to make its voice heard, whether protesting over polluting factories, demanding a say over land transfers or simply using social media to vent frustrations.
Additional reporting by Leslie Hook
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  1. ReportTruer | October 1 2:02am | Permalink
    @Windy

    Every foreign media has been saying about the highly secretive Chinese politics, more so are the private lives of the Chinese leaders. And yet, how could a nobody poster like you could come into the knowledge of the "Da Fu Hao". If the Chinese leaders are as corrupted as what the many China haters are saying and if they are as secretive as what the western media are saying, than those Chinese leaders won't be meeting girls in a "restaurant" but would have had the girls brought to their secretive apartments.

    Next time, try to be smarter in making imbecilic lies.
  2. Reportthegreatkonga | September 29 1:52pm | Permalink
    One always hears this word, "technocratic", when referring to the Chinese leadership. Why? They are not in the least technocratic, the entire CCP is based on close relations and shared interests among different ideologues. Several academic studies have revealed no relation between job performance and promotion within party ranks. Really, FT! You should get it together.
  3. ReportJames UK | September 29 12:48pm | Permalink
    @ ReportWidmerpool,
    Yes, I have been to Beijing 3 or 4 times in last 10 years, Beijing tube is even worse than the City line in London in rush hours. I just needed to take it once for early meeting though fortunately! Know you are China hater, I am Japan hater.

    will not comment here, the same weird people every time, boring!
  4. ReportWidmerpool | September 29 11:55am | Permalink
    The China Daily to its etrenal credit has a very full account of ex Comrade BO's downfall; whilst covering the same stuff as the FT it also says there is evidence that he has been involved in "other crimes" and this will be handed over to "judicial organs for handling"
    Good news for China which is hopefully now entering a new era where the rule of law is becoming paramount and more openess and transparency will prevail over time.
    The Chinese are to be congratulated now for not sweeping the BO disgrace under the carpet.

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