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Bo Xilai's 'interview' with Japanese media 'bizarre': scholars

2012/05/13 21:49:21

Taipei, May 13 (CNA) Former Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai's recent interview with an obscure Japanese media was a "bizarre" move arranged by Beijing's top leaders, reported the Voice of America (VOA) Sunday, citing Taiwanese scholars.

Lin Chong-pin, a professor of international affairs at Tamkang University and a former deputy defense minister, said the interview was the latest move by China's top leaders -- President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao -- to push for political reform and signal to the outside world their confidence in handling Bo's case properly, according to VOA.

The interview, which Lin said was agreed upon by Chinese authorities in advance, also indicated that Bo will be dealt with separately from his wife Gu Kailai, who is suspected of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood.

Wong Ming-hsien, chair of the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University, told the VOA that the interview, if genuine, meant that Beijing had changed its attitude toward Bo.

From initially insisting on harshly prosecuting him, the authorities now seem to be leaving open the possibility that Bo's case could be handled in other ways, Wong said.

With China facing so many thorny issues, including the case of blind dissident Chen Guangcheng, a sovereignty dispute with the Philippines in the South China Sea, and a domestic economic slowdown, Wong contended that Beijing will want to deal with Bo's case quickly to lessen its impact in other areas.

Lin added, however, that while Bo might never be prosecuted, it would be unrealistic to think he could regain political power.

Meanwhile, Kou Chien-wen, an international relations professor at National Chengchi University, said Bo's opportunity to speak with Japanese media was "bizarre."

Kou said that since 1949, no Chinese political leader who was under investigation had ever been able to contact the outside world, let alone be interviewed by foreign media.

On May 11, the relatively obscure Japanese publication Yukan Fuji reported on the "exclusive interview" between Bo and Japanese political commentator Keisuke Udagawa.

Bo was cited as saying that he regretted not divorcing Gu and that they had been separated for over 10 years but remained married for the sake of their son, Bo Guagua.

Dismissing speculation connecting his downfall to a power struggle within the Communist Party, Bo said he was set up because of his crackdown on corruption and crime in Chongqing, according to the report.

It said the interview took place in a private room in a hotel near Tiananmen Square, and Bo was accompanied by two translators, including one from the National Security Bureau, with two police officers standing outside the room.

(By Jamie Wang)