The Chinese Communist Party has expelled a member of its Politburo amid charges of corruption, abuse of power, and an international murder investigation.
Bo Xilai, former party secretary for the Chongqing region, is the third person to face charges in connection with the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence in August for poisoning Hewood at a Chongqing hotel. The region’s chief of police, who served under Bo, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in September on numerous charges, including his role in covering up the murder.
Analysts say Bo’s trial is the highest profile case in China in decades, but the timing of his expulsion from the party was largely seen as a tone-setting measure in advance of the party’s once-a-decade leadership transition summit in November.
Bo had risen through the ranks of the party from mayor to provincial governor to minister of commerce before gaining a position on the 25-member Politburo. According to an October report in The Economist, by openly campaigning for further promotion, Bo was seen to be challenging the established order and is facing corruption charges for activities many of his colleagues are also known to have committed even though they are not facing charges.