Dozens Under Arrest in China in Connection With Bo Xilai Scandal
At least 39 people are thought to be being held, alongside Mr Bo, in the seaside town of Beidaihe, a favourite retreat for Communist party leaders.
“The detainees include Xu Ming, who had a very special relationship with Mr Bo, and some of the people who worked with him,” said Wang Kang, a well-connected independent scholar and public figure in Chongqing who is the only person with inside information on Mr Bo’s removal from power to go on the record.
“The detainees are mainly people from Dalian and other places, not from Chongqing,” he added. Mr Xu is one of China’s richest men, a billionaire who heads the Dalian Shide industrial conglomerate. The 41-year-old has not been seen at the company since mid-March.
One of the people in custody is Xia Deling, the former party chief of Nan’an district in Chongqing, the area in which Mr Heywood’s body was discovered, on November 15, in the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel.
Mr Xia has been rumoured to have supplied the cyanide that killed Mr Heywood. However, Mr Wang suggested that this is unlikely. “Xia Deling was promoted from the countryside to his post in Nan’an, skipping up two ranks, so he was very loyal. But I do not think he would have personally obtained the poison,” he said.
“However, the Beijing public security bureau came to Chongqing and took him directly to Beijing, which is odd,” he added. Mr Wang’s claims about the arrests could not be independently verified.
Yesterday the 350-man Communist Party Central Committee, the body made up of the leading figures among China’s government, army and party, said it had made a “resolute decision to thoroughly investigate” the web of intrigue around Mr Bo’s family.
It said that an attempted defection to the United States by Wang Lijun, Chongqing’s police chief, was a “serious political event that has created an adverse influence both at home and abroad” while the death of Mr Heywood, a 41-year-old British businessman and friend of the Bo family, was a “serious criminal case involving the kin and aides of a party and state leader”. It added that Mr Bo had “seriously violated party discipline”.
Mr Wang fled to the US consulate in Chengdu after discovering that Mr Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, may have been involved in Mr Heywood’s death. Mr Bo stripped the police chief of his badge two days after being told the news about his wife. At the time, Mr Wang was suffering from “very obvious psychological problems”, according to one inside source.
Allegations that Mr Heywood had been romantically involved, at some point, with Mrs Gu remain unclear. Mr Wang said that the same source that told him about a quarrel between Mr Bo and his police chief, Wang Lijun, also said there “had been a relationship” between Mr Bo’s wife and Mr Heywood. However, other sources in Chongqing, close to the police investigation, told Reuters that the relationship was platonic.
Until the drama ended the careers of Mr Bo and Mr Wang, the pair had run Chongqing as a personal fief, spending lavishly and, on occasion, ignoring regulations.
Mr Wang, for example, began construction on an enormous monument to “Police Martyrs”, ordering the top of one of Chongqing’s mountains, Geleshan, to be closed off and rebuilt. Yesterday, construction had been halted on the £590,000 project, but the area was still closed off. Workers inside confirmed that it was Mr Wang’s decision to build the monument.
One source with knowledge of the planned monument, comprising a “Wall of Heroes” and a series of columns rising to the top of the mountain, said the area was a protected national forest park and that Mr Wang had not obtained any permits from either the National Forestry Bureau or the Bureau of Parks and Woods. “He simply ordered it to be built,” the source said.