A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China
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The scandalous story of the corruption of the Bo Xilai family—the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood; Bo’s secret lovers; the secret maneuverings of Bo’s supporters; the hasty trial and sentencing of Gu Kailai, Bo’s wife—was just the first rumble of a seismic power struggle that continues to rock the very foundation of China’s all-powerful Communist Party. By the time it is over, the machinations in Beijing and throughout the country that began with Bo’s fall could affect China’s economic development and disrupt the world’s political and economic order.
Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang have pieced together the details of this fascinating political drama from firsthand reporting and an unrivaled array of sources, some very high in the Chinese government. This was the first scandal in China to play out in the international media—details were leaked, sometimes invented, to non-Chinese news outlets as part of the power plays that rippled through the government. The attempt to manipulate the Western media, especially, was a fundamental dimension to the story, and one that affected some of the early reporting. A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel returns to the scene of the crime and shows not only what happened in Room 1605 but how the threat of the story was every bit as important in the life and death struggle for power that followed. It touched celebrities and billionaires and redrew the cast of the new leadership of the Communist Party. The ghost of Neil Heywood haunts China to this day.
local government agency had promised to revisit his father’s case and reverse the verdict against him. While preparing for his father’s funeral, Hu contacted local officials, requesting that they clear his father’s name before the burial so he could rest in peace. Acting on the advice of his friends, Hu hosted a lunch at an expensive restaurant in his hometown and invited the county chief to “have a heart-to-heart talk” over food. For the meal, Hu paid 50 yuan, almost equivalent to Hu’s monthly
‘Go ask your mother. If she was there [with Bo Xilai], so was I.’” Many political analysts I know were surprised that details of Bo’s sexual transgressions had been included in the official investigation report and listed as one of Bo’s offenses. In China, although wife-swapping or having private sex parties is considered a criminal offense, adultery is not. It is not clear from the official statement whether Bo had participated in any group sexual activities that could be considered “assembled
Even though Bloomberg acknowledged that none of the assets had any immediate link with Xi and his wife, and there is no indication Xi intervened to advance his relatives’ business transactions, the report tainted the Xi family’s clean image. As usual, the Chinese government immediately blocked Bloomberg’s website and a week later, Xi’s supporters supplied Mingjing News with a meticulously researched article to dispute the Bloomberg report, claiming that most of the assets belonged to his
Washington Post, 40, 176, 273, 298 Weapon sales, 24, 28, 37 Wei Jiurui, 12 Wei Ke, 58–59 Weibo, 6, 12, 13, 14, 39, 68, 74, 99, 123, 124, 129, 130, 148, 234, 274, 278, 279, 304, 315 Wen Jiabao, 124, 138, 177, 258, 266, 297–298, 312 Bo Xilai and, 80, 83, 103, 105, 117, 120, 128, 134, 148, 195, 196, 212, 229, 236, 242–244, 247–248, 267 corruption allegations against, 234–238, 244–247, 280 early career of, 239 economic reform and, 240–241 Jiang Zemin and, 235 legacy of, 244 media coverage
party secretaries four times and none had made any visible impact on the city. If Bo could turn the city around, joining the Politburo Standing Committee was inevitable. For someone with unchecked political ambition, Bo Xilai must have been aware of the story relating to the city’s auspicious name. Legend had it that during China’s Song Dynasty, a prince was sent to rule and tame what was then called Gongzhou, a city famous for its rebellious streak against the central government. In January