The fall of Bo Xilai was nearly complete today when China’s Politburo expelled him from the Communist Party, paving the way for him to stand trial on a list of charges that include bribery, involvement in a murder, and “improper sexual relations” with a number of women.
The announcement came on the eve of a weeklong holiday in China. The Chinese government also used the moment to announce when that the leadership transition will begin Nov. 8.
Bo was expected to be part of that new leadership. Instead, he faces disgrace and a criminal trial, a fate that has already befallen his wife and former top aide.
Before his downfall Bo, who led a ultra-left Maoist revival in recent years, was expected to assume his place on the Standing Committee of the Chinese Politburo, essentially the nine or so people who make all the important decisions in China.
Instead, according to the Xinhua News Agency, the Politburo convened Friday and decided to expel Bo from the party all together and paved the way for him to face trial in a Chinese court.
Bo, who has not been seen in public since March, was the final figure to fall in the worst scandal to hit China in a generation. Bo’s former police chief Wang Lijun was sentenced to 15 years in prison earlier this week for crimes that included attempted defection and helping to cover up the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Heywood, who had ties with Bo, was poisoned by Bo’s wife Gu Kailai. Gu was given a “suspended death sentence” in August.
Unlike Wang and Gu, the charges against Bo are coming straight from the Politburo.
According Xinhua the Politburo accused Bo of abusing power, taking bribes and bearing “a major responsibility” for the Heywood scandal.
The allegations reach all the way back to the beginnings of Bo’s political career from when he was the mayor of the port city of Dalian in the 1990s, to when he was party boss of Liaoning Province, on to his time as China’s commerce minister and finally as Chongqing party boss.
His own party accused Bo of taking advantage of his position to “seek profits from others” and “received huge bribes (without specifying how much) personally and through his family.”
They also mentioned that “Bo had or maintained improper sexual relationships with a number of women.”
“Bo Xilai’s actions created grave repercussions and did massive harm to the reputation of the party and state, producing an extremely malign effect at home and abroad,” said the Xinhua statement.
“His political career is over. There will be no chance of a comeback,” Hu Xingdou, professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology and a prominent blogger, told ABC News.
Bo is known as a “princeling” in China, the scion of a legendary Mao-era revolutionary. The long litany of accusations serves one apparent purpose: to sully not only Bo but the Bo family name for years to come.
The extensive announcement left out significant and tantalizing details, like how much in bribes did he allegedly take and who were the women that he had improper relations with.
Those missing details will ensure the continued attention of China’s population.