Senior Communist Party leaders told The New York Times that Xilai had conducted an extensive wiretapping operation for a period of several years, continuing the work of other party officials. According to The Telegraph Gu Kailai, the wife of Xilai, said that she was in the room when Neil Heywood—a British businessman who lived in China until his death—was poisoned last fall.
Heywood is thought to have served as a mentor to the younger Bo by assisting him in the admissions process for Harrow—a prestigious English secondary school—and Oxford University. Chinese authorities said that the family’s relationship with Heywood soured following “a conflict over economic interests,” according to a report in The Daily Mail.
Xilai was removed from his position as Party secretary of China’s Chongqing municipality in March and then deposed from the Politburo, China’s most influential political body, within several weeks.
Xilai’s rapid downfall has been shrouded in mystery as rumors swirled in recent months about alleged corruption and overextension of power.
Bo Guagua entered the spotlight while he was a student in England. He became known for supposedly throwing expensive parties and zipping around Beijing in a Ferrari, raising eyebrows and spurring questions about how his family could afford to fund his lavish social life.
In his statement on Tuesday, Bo Guagua addressed these accusations. He wrote that his private school education had been funded entirely by scholarships and assistance from his mother. He also denied the reports that he drove a Ferrari.
As the controversy heated up in recent weeks, Bo Guagua removed himself from the public eye. Until Tuesday, his last clear public communication had followed his father’s removal from his position as party leader last month.
Numerous Harvard professors declined to comment on Guagua’s situation, citing his enrollment in a Harvard graduate school.
The Dean of Students at the Kennedy School sent an email last week to students at the graduate school asking them to refrain from talking to the media.
“The School does not share information about our students without their permission, and we ask that you respect the privacy and dignity of all members of our community,” read the email.
“[Y]ou should feel no obligation to respond to journalists’ questions.”
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at email@example.com.