World Bulletin/News Desk
The Chinese government pressed ahead on Saturday with an effort to discredit fallen politician Bo Xilai, drawing an outcry from leftist supporters of the former leadership contender in a sign of the rifts that his prosecution could inflame.
Once a charismatic yet divisive star who stood out on China's stolid political stage, Bo is almost sure to face trial and jail after the ruling Communist Party announced his expulsion on Friday and issued a list of allegations: bending the law to hush up a murder, taking huge bribes and engaging in "improper sexual relations with multiple women".
The party buried Bo under the damning accusations at the same time that it announced a Nov. 8 date for a congress that will anoint a new generation of top leaders - a lineup that Bo held barely disguised ambitions to join.
On Saturday, China's party-run parliament confirmed that Bo had been removed as a delegate, following his expulsion from the party and its governing councils, Xinhua news agency reported.
Bo's downfall has unsettled preparations for the leadership succession, and exposed high-level abuse of power after his former police chief briefly took refuge in a U.S. consulate and revealed that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered a British businessman.
State media tried to draw a clear line between Bo and the party elite he once belonged to, casting his fall as a victory for the party's determination to fight corruption.
"No matter how high a position, no matter how influential, anyone who violates party discipline and state law will be sternly pursued and punished," the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on the case.
"As a senior party official, Bo Xilai should have been a model of obedience to party discipline," the news agency said in the commentary, widely distributed by state media websites. "But instead he monopolised power and behaved recklessly, doing as he pleased and gravely violating discipline."
"His misdeeds deserve their punishment."
The party could face trouble, however, convincing sceptics that it has only recently awoken to Bo's crimes, which it traced back to his years as a city official in northeast China. Bo's leftist supporters have already revived charges that Bo is the victim of a plot to eradicate him and his populist policies.
"Last night, one of the core members of the ruling party's leadership was suddenly turned into a demon," said one commentary on "Red China", a far-left Chinese-language website that has issued a stream of commentary defending Bo.
"Unlike other ousted senior officials, Bo Xilai's downfall has triggered two diametrically opposed reactions in society - one of elation and relief, and the other of outrage and regret."
The "Red China" site has been blocked to the many Chinese users who do not know how to get past censorship barriers. But China's version of Twitter, "Weibo", has also echoed with debate about Bo's dramatic downfall.
Public support for Bo is unlikely to creep into the heavily regimented party congress, but the effort to disgrace him could foster deeper public disillusionment with the party by showing that one of its formerly favoured officials was steeped in corruption. Bo, 63, is the "princeling" son of a Communist Party official who served alongside Mao Zedong.
"He won support from the underdogs of society and the radical intellectuals, and maybe even some within the party and the military," said Lai Hongyi, who teaches about contemporary China at the University of Nottingham in Britain. "That's probably quite polarising because you are not talking about just a few people but a segment of the whole of Chinese society and the establishment."
After arriving in Chongqing in 2007, Bo turned it into a showcase for pro-growth economics, and ran a campaign against organised crime, policies welcomed by many of the city's 30 million residents, though his brash self-promotion irked some leaders in Beijing.
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have already been jailed over the scandal stemming from the murder in November of British businessman Neil Heywood.
The official statement carried by Xinhua said that in the murder scandal, Bo "abused his powers of office, committed serious errors and bears a major responsibility". That charge appears to reflect accusations from Wang's trial that suggested Bo tried to stymie the murder investigation.
The government also accused Bo of taking huge bribes and other unspecified crimes. Before Bo is charged and tried, investigators must first complete an inquiry and indict him, but China's prosecutors and courts come under party control and are most unlikely to challenge the accusations.
Pakistani observers complain US president's strategy on Afghanistan completely overlooks their concerns
The government failed to get the two-thirds majority to pass the bill that has been the centre of contentious political debate and party horsetrading for nearly two years.
South Korea and US kick off annual exercise with 70,000 troops
Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit is suspected of being directly involved in 2008 bombings targeting a Muslim-majority town
Military says 3 women among dead in attack by Abu Sayyaf group on village in predominantly Muslim province of Basilan
The centre-left Labour Party has enjoyed a huge boost in support ahead of the September 23 election after gambling on a charismatic new leader in 37-year-old Jacinda Ardern.
James Joseph Dresnok was among just a handful of American servicemen to desert following the Korean War, crossing the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone in 1962.
Visit follows fresh US allegations that Islamabad is not 'doing enough' against Haqqani network
At least 100 deaths were reported overnight across India and Bangladesh following the latest in a series of deluges since August 10, as the annual monsoon hit the north and east of the region.
UN mission in Afghanistan confirms Taliban, self-proclaimed ISIL militants killed 36 people in Mirza Olang valley
Fire officials said the workers were painting the interior of the tanker at an STX Offshore & Shipbuilding plant in the southeastern city of Changwon and died almost instantly.
The men were sentenced to death by firing squad for planting a huge explosive near where Hasina was scheduled to speak during her first term as prime minister in 2000, prosecutor Shamsul Haq Badol told AFP.
Satellite photos show nine Chinese civilian and two government ships near the Philippine-owned Pag-asa Island
No bail set, he faces up to two years in prison, a fine or both
Police raids dubbed "One Time Big Time" saw at least 76 people shot dead, authorities said, as rights groups and lawmakers condemned the operation as an alarming "killing spree" in Duterte's flagship campaign.
Visiting Afghan deputy foreign minister calls on Pakistan’s foreign secretary in Islamabad