, BEIJING, Sept 28 – Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai will “face justice” for a litany of crimes, state media said Friday, as it announced the Communist Party had set a November 8 date for a pivotal party congress.
The apparent decision to come down hard on Bo for alleged abuse of power, taking bribes and improper sexual relations, was the latest turn in a scandal that has rocked the party ahead of a once-a-decade leadership transition.
Both Bo’s fate and the date of the congress have been the subject of intense speculation over whether China’s biggest political intrigue in decades would unsettle the highly choreographed leadership change.
The announcement on Bo marked a harsh public rebuke for a Chinese Communist official as authorities looked to lay to rest the damaging episode that has shocked China and saw Bo’s wife convicted of murder.
“Bo Xilai’s behaviour created serious negative consequences, seriously damaged the party and the country’s reputation in China and abroad, created an extremely negative result, and created huge losses for the party and the Chinese people,” the Xinhua news agency said.
Bo, the party boss of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, was seen as a candidate for promotion to the party’s top echelons.
But he was brought down earlier this year by murder allegations against his wife Gu Kailai that came to light when Bo’s right hand man and police chief Wang Lijun turned against him.
Bo “made serious errors and he bears the major responsibility” for the scandal that saw Gu convicted of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood after a multi-million-dollar deal went sour, Xinhua said.
Bo “seriously violated party discipline and abused his power with regards to the Gu Kailai and Wang Lijun cases, made serious errors, for which he bears the major responsibility, abused his public position to aid others and, directly and through family members, received huge bribes from others,” it said.
Bo was removed from his Chongqing post and analysts said the affair exposed deep divisions within the Communist Party as he retains a large following among left-leaning party members.
Friday’s announcement now likely sets the stage for what will be a highly anticipated trial for Bo.
Xinhua said that Bo was stripped of his party membership and positions, a step that in China clears the way for wayward officials to be formally prosecuted.
“Gu Kailai used Bo Xilai’s public position to win favours for others, including family members, Bo’s family members received huge financial benefits from others, and Bo had inappropriate sexual relationships with several women,” it said.
It added that investigations into the affair had also found evidence of unspecified “other crimes”.
The Communists had hoped for a smooth build-up to a congress that is tightly scripted to underline the party’s claim to be the only legitimate force capable of ruling the world’s most populous nation.
But it has instead been rocked by the Bo case and the details of murder, million-dollar deals and the affluent lifestyles of the Communist Party power elite that it laid bare.