In London this week there’s a hot seat and Chinese government officials are sitting in it. While in the UK for trade talks senior British officials are raising their concerns over the death of Neil Heywood.
Mr Heywood was a close friend to Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai. In November last year he was found dead in a hotel room. Local authorities said he died of alcohol poisoning and he was quickly cremated. No autopsy was performed.
This is when the Internet took off and rumours circulated wide and free. Let me attempt to consolidate the conspiracy theories. Please note not all of the following bullet points have been proven – for all I know they could be far from the facts.
- One theorist speculated that Heywood was aware of a very sizeable funds transfer overseas by Gu Kailai. Some say it was RMB$8 billion (equal to US$1 billion). Clearly he wasn’t supposed to know and he was poisoned to conceal the truth.
- It is a known fact that the Chief of Police sought refuge in the U.S. Consulate. Wang Lijun entered the U.S Consulate in Chingqing on 6 February in an attempt to defect. He stayed for 10 hours and later left.
- What is reported online now is that Wang approached Bo Xilai about his suspicion that Bo’s wife was involved in the murder of Heywood. Apparently Bo erupted and excused Wang from his office. After he calmed down he called him back in. After this encounter Wang sought protection from the US Government.
- Last week Bo Xilai was stripped of all his roles in the Communist party. His wife was arrested on suspicion of murder. She is in detention and will face a death penalty trial.
- Supporters of Bo suggest the entire case was fabricated to undermine a rising star with Maoist ideology. Bo supported the disenfranchised and poor. He was against rampant capitalism.
- Back to rumours! In late March Weibo commentators wrote that Bo Xilai supporters had gathered on Zhongnanhai in an attempted coup against the government. Zhongnanhai is a secure compound around a peaceful lake adjacent to the Forbidden City. Most senior government officials reside there.
- Switch to facts! Weibo has been heavily edited with a temporary block keeping people from commenting or sharing posts during the two days of coup comments. Now any posts supportive of Bo or Gu are removed.
According to The Wall Street Journal, members of the Chinese delegation in London today reassured Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that an investigation was underway to uncover the facts of the case. Britons had criticised the government for not doing enough.
Back in China the widow of Neil Heywood was warned not to discuss the case with media. This advance warning is usually reserved for political activists. Mrs Heywood hadn’t been discussing the case before the official request.
Poison. Murder. Defection. Coup. Cover-up. Investigation.
Much like Alice in Wonderland, the Bo Xilai case keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.