. China News .

Hotel-style prison awaits China's Bo Xilai: inmates
by Staff Writers
Qincheng, China (AFP) Sept 22, 2013

Bo Xilai: rise and fall of a political star in China
Beijing (AFP) Sept 22, 2013 - With a suave demeanour, well-cut suits and an easy smile, Bo Xilai presented, in his heyday, a stark contrast to the usual ranks of stiff, buttoned-up Chinese politicians.

But his open ambition and lobbying for promotion, coupled with his "princeling" status as the son of a hero of China's revolution, irritated some of his colleagues in the upper echelons of the ruling Communist Party.

His revival of "red" culture, sending officials to work in the countryside and pushing workers to sing revolutionary songs, also raised eyebrows.

The ousted political star was sentenced by a court to life in prison on Sunday, convicted of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power in the country's highest-profile trial for decades.

During the five-day proceedings last month, Bo reinforced his larger-than-life persona with an unapologetic defence and grilling of witnesses.

Enjoying a rare chance as a Chinese defendant to speak out, he dismissed his wife as "insane" and a close aide as secretly being in love with her.

He admitted to having affairs himself, though he insisted on his modesty by saying his underwear was 50 years old.

Born in 1949 -- the year the Party took power in China -- Bo embraced his leftist streak despite tragedy suffered by his family during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, a decade of deadly chaos launched by then-leader Mao Zedong in which youths tormented their elders and officials were purged.

His father, revolutionary general Bo Yibo, was jailed and tortured and his mother beaten to death, while Bo Xilai himself spent time in a labour camp.

But after Mao died and reformist leader Deng Xiaoping took over, Bo Yibo was rehabilitated and became one of the most powerful men in China, a party "immortal" who retained influence over state affairs through the 1990s.

The father's outsized stature bestowed on the son an impeccable pedigree that long protected him -- and may have also facilitated his rise through the ranks.

Bo studied history at Peking University and took a master's degree in journalism from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences -- an educational background that stands out in the crowd of engineers and scientists who make up China's political elite.

For nearly two decades from 1985 he was based in China's northeastern rustbelt, first as mayor of Dalian, a decaying port city that he is credited with transforming into a modern investment hub.

He brought glamour and attention to the city with flashy signature projects including a mounted female police squad, international fashion show and successful football team.

There, he left his first wife, with whom he had one son, for Gu Kailai -- another privileged child of a renowned general, herself an accomplished lawyer who also studied at Peking University.

Bo was promoted to governor of Liaoning province and in 2004 entered the Beijing limelight as China's commerce minister, dazzling foreign counterparts with his modern, can-do attitude.

During that time, he hosted many foreign visitors including EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, with whom he appeared to be on genuinely friendly terms.

Outside observers who said his move to the megacity of Chongqing in the southwest in 2007 would push him out of the limelight found themselves proved wrong.

Yet those who had praised Bo as relatively liberal grew disillusioned, particularly with his ruthless corruption crackdown which saw scores of officials detained -- some executed -- and has since been criticised as flouting the law.

An early critic, journalist Jiang Weiping, was jailed for five years in 2000 and later moved to Canada after accusing Bo and Gu of corruption in Dalian as early as the 1990s.

Fallen high-flyer Bo Xilai can expect hotel-style treatment at a jail for China's political elite, where he will enjoy comfortable surroundings but be constantly monitored by government agents, former prisoners say.

Hidden in wooded hills north of Beijing, guards stand outside the red gate of Qincheng prison, where the once-powerful Bo is widely expected to begin his life sentence after being convicted Sunday of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The jail has high grey walls, but there are no obvious signs of barbed wire or watchtowers.

"It's like a five-star hotel," said Bao Tong, a former secretary to the ruling Communist Party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee who spent seven years in the prison for opposing the 1989 crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Inmates at the facility -- which has housed almost all the high-ranking politicians jailed in China since the 1960s -- are given large private cells equipped with soft beds, sofas, desks and an en-suite bathroom, former residents said.

"I was pleasantly surprised the first time I saw my room," Dai Qing, the adopted daughter of a Chinese commander, wrote in a description to AFP.

Dai, who spent 10 months in the prison for supporting the Tiananmen demonstrators, described her cell as about 30 square metres large (320 square feet) and coming "with high ceilings... and even a bathroom", while prison guards treated her with "warmth and care".

"The head of the prison let me put on better clothes before I left," she recalled of one occasion when she was let out to visit a sick relative. "He reminded me of my old school headmaster."

Prisoners can choose their clothes, drink milk for breakfast and eat selections of soups and meat dishes for lunch and dinner, they said.

Some of the jail chefs used to work in one of Beijing's top hotels and prepare food to "ministry chief level", according to a recent report by the Beijing Times.

Information about the prison -- which does not appear on any Chinese maps -- is tightly controlled in China, but a trickle of reports have emerged.

The former Communist Party boss in Shanghai, Chen Liangyu, jailed for graft in 2008, wore a western-style suit and practiced tai chi while incarcerated, Hong Kong media said.

Qincheng was expanded in the last year, with an old wall removed to make room for "pavilions, trees and grass reminiscent of a Chinese garden", the respected financial magazine Caijing reported last month.

The descriptions present a stark contrast with ordinary Chinese jails, where inmates generally share cramped cells, eat basic food and are encouraged to work, sometimes manufacturing goods for export.

"Qincheng gives the best treatment of any prison in China," said Chen Zeming, an academic blamed by authorities for helping to organise the Tiananmen protests and who spent several months in the facility.

The "Gang of Four", a political faction including former leader Mao Zedong's wife Jiang Qing, were sent to the prison following a high-profile trial in 1981. Prison authorities treated senior Party figures better than the Tiananmen activists, Chen said.

"Some prisoners were allowed outside to plant vegetables, later I realised one of them was Yao Wenyuan," he said, referring to one of the Gang of Four.

Built in the late 1950s with help from the Soviet Union, Qincheng is the only prison in China to be directly administered by state security, rather than judicial authorities.

"The prison is directly controlled by the Communist Party's central committee," Bao said. "The everyday situation of prisoners is reported directly to them."

Security officials stood outside his room at all hours noting his every change of position, Bao said, while Dai wrote of being constantly monitored.

Bo's status as the son of one of China's most famous revolutionary generals -- and his continued support among the party elite -- would ensure his comfort, the former inmates said.

"Bo Xilai won't be mistreated... he will have long periods to breathe the outside air and to communicate with others," said the academic Chen.

Bao added: "If Bo Xilai wants anything, and the central party agrees, then he will get it. If he wants to dance all day, and the party agrees, he can dance all day."

Top officials detained at Qincheng are often released on medical parole years before the end of their terms, according to reports never officially confirmed, and live out their days under house arrest.

"After two years, they will say (Bo) is ill and he will be released, and will live next to a lake," Bao predicted, "or by the sea".


Related Links
China News from SinoDaily.com

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Get Our Free Newsletters
Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear


Hong Kong couple jailed for 'inhumane' abuse of Indonesian maid
Hong Kong (AFP) Sept 18, 2013
A Hong Kong couple were jailed Wednesday for a shocking string of attacks on their Indonesian domestic helper, including burning her with an iron and beating her with a bike chain. Tai Chi-wai, 42, and his 41-year-old wife Catherine Au subjected their former maid Kartika Puspitasari to a two-year campaign of violence and humiliation, labelled "cruel" and "inhumane" by the trial judge. Th ... read more

Thousands of Romanians in fresh protest against mine project

China's FTZ plan a 'political message' to Hong Kong: analysts

US companies await reforms from China's new leadership

The Africans making it big in China

Brazil rancher's conviction upheld in US nun's death

Research minimizes effects of federal produce standards on mushroom industry

Vaccinating cattle against E. coli O157 could cut human cases of infection by 85 percent

Sensors allow for efficient irrigation, give growers more control over plant growth

160 UN peacekeepers desert Mali posts: military

Three Ivorian police killed in attacks

Uganda suspends 24 officers over Somalia corruption

Mali ministers met by hail of stones in Tuareg stronghold

AllCell's Self-Cooling 48V Micro-Hybrid Battery Solves Hot Parking Lot Problem

California's low-carbon fuel standard to stay

Innovative Auto Steering Device Could Save Lives

Bicycle built by Dutch students sets speed record of 83.13 mph

Iran to take control of Russian-built reactor 'Monday'

Iran assumes control of Bushehr nuclear plant

Japan PM Abe at Fukushima in PR push

Over 1,000 tons of Fukushima water dumped after typhoon

US spy revelations hurts Web trust: Facebook chief

Boeing Offers Improved Cybersecurity Training and Simulation Tool

Cyberdefense moves open Latin American opportunities

Iran foreign minister says Facebook page hacked

'Humbled' Kennedy seeks deeper ties with Japan

Russian military resumes permanent Arctic presence

US, Philippines launch war games near South China Sea

China's Bo Xilai writes defiant prison letter: report

Windswept German island gives power to the people

Trump's suit to halt wind farm project to be heard in November

Ireland connects first community-owned wind farm to grid

Moventas significantly expands wind footprint

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement