Bo’s detractors, however, were cheered by the news, though they too saw politics at play in the decision.
“This announcement is long overdue. This means there is some progress in the rule of law in China. There is more transparency,” said Li Zhuang, a formidable defense lawyer who found himself jailed in Chongqing after he accused police of extracting his client’s confession by torture. “Of course it is also political. In China, politics and law often go hand in hand.”
The decision by the 25-member Politburo, of which Bo had been a member, said that “investigations show that Bo had seriously violated party discipline … abused his power, committed grave mistakes and should be held responsible for the Wang Lijun case as well as Gu’s murder case.”
The mention of Gu’s case appeared to be a reference to obstruction of justice. Wang testified that Bo ignored him when he told him of his suspicions, then boxed him in the ears, demoted him, and detained several of his subordinates.
The Politburo statement said that he took huge amounts of bribes directly or through his family and “maintained illicit relationships with numerous females.” It said Bo’s crimes dated from his time as mayor of the eastern port city of Dalian, through his term as commerce minister and as leader of Chongqing.
“Xi is safer with Bo gone, but the hardliners will withhold their cooperation at the congress as a sign of their disapproval,” said China expert Feng Chongyi of the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.
Friday’s Politburo meeting sets a series of events in motion. The 204-member Central Committee, a cross-section of the national party elite, usually convenes about a week before the congress to approve decisions already made by the Politburo. Privately, the committee will also approve the incoming leaders and a policy blueprint for the next five years.
• Associated Press writers Gillian Wong, Didi Tang and Isolda Morillo contributed to this report.
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