Editor’s Note: In an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon, Cheng Li provides his analysis of the trial of former Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai. Read an excerpt below.
Scott Simon: Help us understand who Bo Xilai is.
Cheng Li: Bo Xilai was a heavyweight politician; was a rising star three months ago and he want to be one of the top seven most powerful figures, maybe even the top leader. But 18 months ago, his police chief arguing that Bo Xilai want to kill him because Bo want to cover up the murder case involve his wife – I mean, his wife involved with a British businessman called Neil Heywood.
Now, of course, that charge, it’s not in the court. They change the charges, but now they focus on corruption issues.
Simon: What’s your reading as to why that happened?
Li: Well, this is certainly could be a deal between the leadership and Bo Xilai because the leadership does not want it to go that far because this would be a wave of criticism of the Chinese Communist Party, so the trial would not be a trial of Bo Xilai but a trial of the Chinese Communist Party. But the irony is Bo Xilai is famous for being anti-corruption during his tenure as leader of Chongqing, the largest city of China, because he launch a very effective campaign against what he called the mafia.