The rise and fall of one of China’s most powerful politicians:
At the opening of the annual Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on March 2, Bo showed up and put on a brave face for the 3,000 assembled delegates and journalists. But in internal government meetings, Bo was livid, haranguing Chongqing officials and telling them that Wang’s flight and the rumours swirling around him were all part of a ‘plot instigated by foreign reactionary forces’. Over the next two weeks, Bo appeared in public nearly a dozen times. In a typical final bout of showmanship, he even held a two-hour press conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress.
Appearing relaxed, Bo said that unspecified enemies had ‘formed criminal blocs with wide social ties and the ability to shape opinion’ and were ‘pouring filth’ on him and his family. He also dismissed suggestions he was being investigated or in any political trouble. Four days later, on March 14, Bo attended the closing ceremony of the National People’s Congress and sat alongside his politburo colleagues on the stage in the Great Hall of the People. Looking tired and distracted, at one point he stared up at the cavernous ceiling of the Great Hall as if saying a silent prayer. As the ceremony ended and China’s most senior leaders got up to leave, Bo rose quickly and strode off the stage. Waiting in the wings were officers of the elite Central Guard Unit charged with protecting China’s top leaders, who led him away, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Gu and more than a dozen of Bo’s close associates were detained at the same time and are currently being held in undisclosed locations around China.