We can marvel over Bo’s downfall. We can go on about how China’s leadership refuses to countenance rising political stars who challenge its clubby world. We can engage in whodunit fantasies about the wife and the dead businessman. But more than anything, this tale shows how an antiquated political system imperils a nation’s future.Bloomberg News

Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party chief in Chongqing, was once seen as a high-flyer tipped for top office. But he has been sacked and his wife is being investigated in connection with the death of a British businessman. – Bo Xilai scandal: Timeline (from the BBC)

The police chief Wang Lijun is afraid of Communist Party boss Bo Xilai, who he’s investigating, so he flees to the American consulate in Chengdu, near Chongqing, then is talked to into leaving consulate, only to be whisked away, with China officials telling the tale that Wang is getting “holiday-style medical treatment,” but he’s actually being held against his will, though no one seems to know where.

In mid-March Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao throws Bo Xilai under the bus in public signaling Beijing is coming for him.

Now a second Politburo member, the security boss Zhou Yongkang who was seen as Bo’s ally, is under scrutiny, with the AP reporting this development is only widening the scandal and confirming chaos inside China’s Communist party ruling elite.

Oh, and did I forget to mention it’s because of allegations that a British businessman was poisoned by the wife of Mr. Bo who is, now was, the leading Communist Party rising star, because he was going to expose her efforts to move her cash around, something that is considered an almost treasonous no-no in China? Meanwhile, the family of the deceased Brit denies there was anything amiss before his death.

That’s just for starters.

If you haven’t been following this tawdry China thriller threatening to expose the Communist Party there drip by dishy drip you need to catch up before the film gets made.

Start with the New York Times reporting from around a week ago. Nicholas Kristof was on CBS “This Morning”, with Charlie Rose, as well as Erica Hill, yesterday reporting on the scandal.

Leading characters being the now deceased Neil Heywood, along with Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai, and an orderly, as well as their spoiled son Bo Guagua, who’s had fancy upper crust schooling, even if his father’s salary couldn’t cover the bills.

All hell broke loose when Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai was arrested for Neil Heywood’s murder recently. Bo’s power was growing politically, as has been his wealth over years, which threatened Beijing, so there’s all sorts of rumors about a frame up, as well as the goal being to neuter Bo’s rise.

That they’ve done.

The Politburo simultaneously suspended Bo Xilai, whose father was a founder of the Chinese Communist party, from the Central Committee for “serious discipline violations.” According to reports, the power couple known as the “Kennedy’s of China” haven’t been seen since mid-March.

From the UK Telegraph, from April 10:

The statement also said that the crime had been brought to light by Wang Lijun, the former police chief in the city.

Mr Wang fled from Chongqing to the US Consulate in neighbouring Chengdu earlier this year, apparently in fear for his safety.

While inside the US consulate, he accused Mrs Gu of poisoning Heywood, prompting the Foreign Office to urge the Chinese authorities to reopen the case.
According to the New York Times, Mr Wang provided American diplomats with “a technical police file” on Heywood’s death, as well as divulging a “trove of knowledge on the contest for power among the Chinese leadership”.

China’s political dirty laundry being aired in public is humiliating, but that it’s tied to a murder is explosive. It also makes for tremendous international dirt, made richer by gossip, innuendo and accusations of the Chinese political 1% wanting to get rid of someone who threatened them.

From the BBC yesterday:

But the scandal – China’s biggest in years – comes ahead of a leadership change in Beijing due to get under way in October. Some suspect that the party are using legal procedures as a pretext for a purge, our correspondent says. In political cases – such as this one – it is the Communist Party and not the courts that makes the decisions, our correspondent adds.

Britain, meanwhile, has called on China to carry out a full investigation free of interference.

Prime Minister David Cameron raised the case with Chinese politburo member Li Changchun on Tuesday when they met at Downing Street, offering “any necessary assistance” to help China investigate the death.