Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.
A fast-rising Chinese leader was ousted from party ranks on Thursday following a scandal in which his handpicked deputy sought refuge at a U.S. consulate last month.
The BBC reports that Bo Xilai, the 62-year-old brash Communist Party chief of Chongqing municipality in southwest China, had been a strong contender to grab a national post in the once-a-decade national leadership transition slated for this fall.
But when his former chief of police, Wang Lijun, spent the night in the U.S. consulate in Chengdu—a city about 210 miles from Chongquing—rumors spread that he had intended to defect from Communist ranks and had fallen out with Bo. China’s "biggest political drama in years," as the Guardian labeled it, has also seen Wang sacked from his position and under police investigation for the incident.
News of Bo's exit was delivered in a one-sentence statement published by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
The New York Times with more on the drama:
For a party obsessed with secrecy and the sheen of stability, the past five weeks have been especially roiling. Ding Xueliang, a social scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said Mr. Wang’s visit to the consulate — during which he may have revealed damaging information about his former boss — set off a cascade of events that convulsed the party establishment. "The Wang Lijun incident has changed the rules of the game by drawing international attention to internal politics," Mr. Ding said. "What the party fears most are abnormal events like this."
As the Times notes, Bo had gone on a “red” campaign when he first came into power in 2007, encouraging Chongquing residents to sing Cultural Revolution-era songs, but he also introduced generous infrastructure spending and helped the municipality's poor.
For more on Bo’s political record and the scandal at large, check out the Times article here.