After weeks of silence and speculation over his whereabouts, Bo Guagua, the only son of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai and his murder-suspect wife Gu Kailai, has written to his school newspaper to defend himself against allegations that he lives the life of a privileged rich kid.
Currently a Harvard grad student and expecting to graduate in a few weeks, the younger Bo released a statement late Tuesday evening in the pages of the Harvard Crimson.
“Recently, there has been increasing attention from the press on my private life. As a result of these speculations, I feel responsible to the public to provide an account of the facts,” Bo wrote in the statement. “It is impossible to address all of the rumors and allegations about myself, but I will state the facts regarding some of the most pertinent claims.”
Even before the dramatic fall of Bo Xilai from the upper echelons of the Communist Party, his son’s flamboyant life style was already a subject of public fascination.
Bo Guagua, which literally means “Melon”, has been known to drive a red Ferrari in Beijing and a Porsche while at school in Cambridge, Mass. Photos circulating online, presumably from his social networking accounts, show Bo Guagua at the center of many parties, solidifying his reputation as a bon vivant. His privileged hard-partying ways have even earned him a satirical twitter handle: @notoriousBGG.
In November, the Wall Street Journal reported that Bo Guagua had once driven his Ferrari to U.S. ambassador’s residence in the Beijing to pick up then- U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman’s daughter for dinner.
In apparent response to this oft-told account, Bo wrote: “I have never driven a Ferrari. I have also not been to the U.S. embassy in Beijing since 1998 …nor have I ever been to the U.S. ambassador’s residence in China.”
Having spent his adolescent years matriculating at expensive elite British boarding schools like Papplewick and Harrow, then university at Oxford and currently Harvard grad student, the younger Bo seemed to be living the charmed life of a thirdgeneration Chinese “princeling.” (Bo Xilai is himself a “princeling,” a term reserved for children of original Mao-era revolutionaries.)
That was until Chinese leaders ousted his dad and accused his mom of murdering a British businessman named Neil Heywood, who was said to have been Guagua’s one-time English tutor and mentor.
The way the younger Bo flaunts his high living ways have no doubt irked some within the Chinese leadership, but it has also lead to questions on how Bo Xilai was able to afford the expensive tuition of the elite schools Guagua attended, let alone the parties he throws, with his civil servant salary.
“My tuition and living expenses at Harrow School, University of Oxford and Harvard University were funded exclusively by two sources—scholarships earned independently, and my mother’s generosity from the savings she earned from her years as a successful lawyer and writer,” Bo wrote in his statement.
He, however, did not reveal the source of the scholarships and his schools have declined to comment on them.
Bo Guagua sightings have been exceedingly rare on the Harvard campus since his father lost his Chongqing Party Secretary post on March 15.
The State Department even felt the pressure to last week to dispel rumors that he was trying to seek asylum, only saying that he was still enrolled in Harvard.
In his statement Bo defended his academic record and extra-curricular activities in boarding school and at Oxford, where he was reportedly suspended for a year due to bad grades.
“I am proud to have been the first mainland Chinese student to be elected to the Standing Committee of the Oxford Union,” the younger Bo wrote with no hint of irony that his own father brought down during his own campaign to assume a seat of the Standing Committee of Chinese Communist Party Politburo.
One thing that Bo Guagua did not mention was the status of his parents, who have been not been seen in public in months.
“I am deeply concerned about the events surrounding my family,” he wrote, “but I have no comments to make regarding the ongoing investigation.”
“I understand that at the present, the public interest in my life has not diminished. However, I wholeheartedly request that members of the press kindly refrain from intruding into the lives of my teachers, friends and classmates.”