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China's Disgraced Top Official Bo Xilai Sentenced to Life in Prison

Categories: East Asia, China, Citizen Media, Law, Politics

Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai was sentenced [1] to life in prison on September 22, 2013 after being found guilty on charges of corruption, taking bribes and abuse of power. He has decided to appeal after the hearing.

According to the South China Morning Post, Bo yelled [2] in anger when the Jinan Intermediate People's Court announced the decision, but was taken away by the court's guards. The court released its decision on its official Weibo [3] account.

Since early 2012, the downfall of the rising political star [4] has become one of China's most watched political scandals.

Bo Xilai, the son of one of Communist China’s founding revolutionary leaders, held high posts and was expected to rise even further. However, Bo’s career began to unravel when his wife was involved in the murder of a British businessman in China and when one of Bo's top lieutenants tried to seek asylum at the US embassy. The revelations of murder, corruption, abuse of power and sex has shocked China.

State media used Bo's trial as an example to show the rule of law and the party’s determination on crackdown against corruption.

China Daily said [5]:

The manner in which it was conducted was a far more significant legacy. Before the trial, not many people expected that it would be broadcast via a micro blog. Viewing the trial live on the Internet, many expressed the view that this trial had set a good precedent for similar trials in the future. It is a well-touted judicial clich that court judgments must be based on facts and in accordance with the law.

People’s Daily wrote [6]:


The resolute punishment of Bo Xilai according to law has fully shown that there are no exceptions in the face of party discipline and state laws. No matter who is involved, they will be investigated in the end and punished according to law.

Global Times added [7]:

China's Fallen Politician Bo Xilai Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

China's Fallen Politician Bo Xilai Sentenced to Life Imprisonment


The Bo Xilai case is a very loud and clear alarm bell. The determination and confidence of the central authorities to counter corruption according to law is unwavering. All kinds of suspicions should be laid to rest.

Due to the recent crackdown on online rumors, most Weibo comments after Bo’s sentencing were supportive of state media. One Weibo user “Ningmen yu Shaonianyi [8]” echoed:


Bo Xilai’s case has proved that the Party is determined to fight against corruption.

Beijing-based political commentator Li Weidong thought [9] [zh] Bo’s life sentence won’t have serious impact on him:


Specific term won’t have much impact on such a figure, after eight or ten years, he can come out on “medical parole”. In the past, Chen Xitong [10] and Chen Liangyu [10] were sentenced to prison, but were out of prison after a few years.

However, professor Zhang Ming from People's University of China thought Bo’s case is by no means the end of the threat to the Party’s power. He wrote [11] [zh] on his personal blog:


The Bo Xilai phenomenon is aborted. However, the issues raised from this phenomenon have not been resolved. The Communist Party of China's internal crisis of legitimacy will not come to an end due to the establishment of the top level. Internal strife and turmoil is still fermenting. After the 18th Chinese Communist Party, the abnormally constant maintenance of stability is most likely due to the top level issue. Different from the Gang of Four trials [12], political problems have been put aside on this case. However, the political issues Bo left behind still exist. In the future, whether willingly or not, the communist regime has to face the problem.