With all the stuff going around about Bo, Bogu, Guagua, Gu and, of course, Neil and Nick Heywood, it’s getting hard for even the most Burroughs of media junkies to keep up. Every time I tell myself I’m done with it, Malcolm Moore at the Telegraph or Jeremy Page of Wall Street Journal turn up offering another fix of the good stuff. Alright, Malcolm – but dammit, this is the last time! I can’t take any more of these tantalising text messages or spooky secrets; if it carries on like this, I might have to start reading Aunt Agatha’s coverage at the New York Times.
Bent as they are on spreading foul tumors – how the Chinese organs refer to rumours and what the rest of us now call the probable truth – the devils in Western media are actually ignoring a whole bunch of good stuff. But we’re not. Here’s a roundup of the most cancerous:
1) Bo Xilai was a pimp who shared his women with Party pals, including Zhou Yongkang, head of the Central Political and Legislative Committee. What makes Bo a “pimp” and not just man’s best friend, i.e. that invaluable wingman, is unclear. Maybe because Bo and Zhou are both married? MSNBC, CNN, WSJ, et al. have been trying to paint Bo and his wife Gu as the “John and Jackie Kennedy” of China. Like most awkward China analogies (“She’s China’s Britney Spears! Only without the meltdowns, and all that other stuff you associate with Britney”) the Camelot comparison fails on several dozen different levels – Jackie? Really? – but Bo certainly matches Jack on the sex and corruption front.
As an addendum: when it comes to the ladies, the CCP loves to share. The classic story is that of the once-finance minister Jin Renqing, ex-agriculture minister Du Qinglin and former head of Sinpoec Chen Tonghai, who, in the 1990s, all shared bragging rights to one mistress, a mysterious socialite socialist who loved to Party. It later emerged she was a Taiwanese spy. Awkward! Some might find this “sharing” culture a tad homoerotic. Not me, though. To the rest of us (still-living) Old Harrovians, it’s just as manly and normal as oiling up for a nude wrestle with a muscular chum.
2) Bo Xilai is a serial killer. Boxun will try to tell you that Bo and Gu are responsible for at least 16 murders between them. They also say that Bo slept with more than 100 women (is that all?), including several celebrities, pop singers and, er, CCTV presenters – though not James Chau, we can safely presume. This isn’t new. Whenever we hear of a high-ranking politician being a sack man, it’s always the same: Jiang Zemin, the “flower vase” who was supposed to just sit and look pretty for a few years and went on to rule for a decade, was a total playa: not content with his wife and the mistress everyone knows, famous soprano Song Zuying, Jiang also paid regular calls on Li Ruiying, Chen Zhili, Huang Liman and, supposedly, a Soviet spy called “Klava” (source: Epoch Times. Cough). Amazingly, even the Hu has apparently had sexual thoughts. Courtesy of Wikileaks, we learned the President had robo-sex with a Chinese television anchorwoman in her 20s while he was still vice president. The 1999 cable stated that the hook-up had “scandalised” President Jiang Zemin – because Jiang had dibs on her? Apparently it was more of an ethical ding-dong: the woman was “younger than Hu’s own daughter.” Still, Jay-Z would have been put into an early grave had he ever read the skinny on the founding father of the PRC. Debauched tyrant (and occasional rapper?) Mao ‘Z’ Dong – who preferred to round up extremely young and unknown “singing girls” from the provinces for his doddering pleasure – was riddled with STDs. When Mao’s doctor told him he should pay more attention to his, you know, genital hygiene, the lightning-fast Mao sweetly fired back: “I wash my penis every day – in their pussies!” (H/T: JP).
3) Neil had socialist leanings too, sex-wise. While some say the neglected Gu found solace in the arms of a charming and enigmatic Brit (“The name’s Heywood… Neil Heywood”), it was only a matter of time before someone saw things like a “butler,” Harrow public school for boys, a paternalistic English expat and the chubby-cheeked Bo Guagua and thought: ah-ha! We won’t bother to outline this hokum other than to say if it is true, we want the Telegraph to run it on page one and the Guardian to publish several cogent think-pieces about homophobia in the media.
4) “Bogu Kailai.” The unusual naming, in official statements, of Bo’s wife as “Bogu” was as perplexing to China Watchers as “Bennifer” was to those of us who didn’t give a damn about celebrity Hollywood couples. Although the Mandarin characters are different, Bo Gu is a largely forgotten CCP darling who died in 1946 of complications arising from a plane crash. Other famous folk to have died in aviation disasters include Buddy Holly, Lynyrd Skynyrd and, er, Lin Biao. Lin is notorious for supposedly attempting to pull a coup on Mao, failing, catching a plane in Beidaihe (where his museum-home can be still be visited as an official shrine to corruption) and then screwing up even further by flaming out somewhere over Mongolia. Was he defecting to Mother Russia? Was the plane shot down? No one, except the curator of the Party archives, really knows – hell, the Party covered up the death of one of their top men for a full year while they tried to figure out why anyone would want to harm Mao. Anyway, the theory goes Bo Gu + Lin Biao = Bo Xilai was also guilty of high treason and conspiracy. A stretch? Thank People’s Daily, bringing you odd hints, coded analogies and vague allusions since 1998. (H/T to the fine blog run by @jkbloodtreasure and JP; for full coup coverage, check out the exhaustive work of the always-entertaining Asia Times.)
5) Neil Heywood died of natural causes! Most stunning of all to the foreign press corps would undoubtedly be the revelation that the Heywood case is a vast Trojan Horse, containing little more than a pile of ashes in an urn. Although there’s a good deal of weirdness about the Heywood fatality – “strange” requests at the memorial service not to approach the grieving widow, an apparently histrionic encounter between Gu and the widow Heywood in a Chonqing eatery, surrounded by security guards and replete with “sobbing” – it’s possible that CCP officials looked at the case of Heywood, a situation with near-zero physical evidence but a whole lot of circumstantial material – and thought – “Let’s run with this.” Granted, uncomfortable questions are piling up for both the UK and PRC governments like Mafia informers in a Sicilian river, but I reckon after the eighteenth cry for Party unity, things should die out by, say, October – no pun intended, really.
RFH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE, 2:12 pm: Ed’s note: Want China Times really wants to get in on this mix as well. Its latest: “A piece published in Mingjing News, a New York-based website allegedly sourced by political insiders, has suggested that Zhang Weijie, a former anchorwoman for Dalian TV, gave birth to a daughter of whom Bo Xilai is the father. // She later accepted 10 million yuan (US$1.6 million) in hush money from Dalian Shide Group chairman Xu Ming and now lives incognito, moving from place to place and raising her daughter alone, the article said.”
BJC’S COVERAGE OF BO XILAI (rollover for story description, click to open in new window):