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China's Communist Party In Damage Control Mode After Bo's Expulsion

China's ruling Communist Party moved Wednesday to contain any possible fallout caused by the expulsion of high-ranking politician Bo Xilai from its ranks and the arrest of his wife in connection with the death of a British businessman.

An editorial entitled "Firm support for correct decision" in the People's Daily, a newspaper the Communist party uses to communicate with its cadres, praised the move to investigate Bo in connection with his wife's arrest as the "correct decision."

Stating that Heywood's death was a "serious criminal case," the editorial said: "Bo Xilai's actions have seriously violated the party's discipline, caused damage to the party and to the country, and harmed the image of the party and the country".

''Whoever has broken the law will be handled in accordance with law and will not be tolerated, no matter who is involved. The people can see our party's resolute determination to maintain party discipline and administer the state by rule of law," it added.

China also intensified its internet censorship on Wednesday, with micro-blogging website Sina Weibo and online forum Baidu Tieba filtering posts containing any references to the scandal as well as the disgraced politician or his family.

Late Tuesday, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) expelled Bo from its ranks and stripped him off all his remaining leadership positions, with the official Xinhua news agency reporting that the politician "is suspected of being involved in serious disciplinary violations."

A separate Xinhua report said Bo's wife Gu Kailai has been named as a suspect in the murder of British business consultant Neil Heywood last November, citing a dispute over unspecified "economic interests" between the two. The news agency added that Gu "has been transferred to judicial authorities on suspected crime of intentional homicide" of Heywood.

"Police set up a team to re-investigate the case of the British national Neil Heywood who was found dead in Chongqing. According to the reinvestigation results, the existing evidence indicates Heywood died of homicide, of which Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun, an assistant in Bo's household, are highly suspected," the news agency said.

Last month, the CPC Central Committee sacked Bo as party secretary of the central Chinese city of Chongqing. However, Bo was not dropped from the 25-member CPC Central Committee then. Bo's political future was marred by an episode involving his former police chief Wang Lijun, who suddenly appeared at the US Consulate in Chengdu early February and reportedly sought political asylum in the US.

Bo and Wang were close for a decade and it was Bo who brought the latter to Chongqing in 2008 to launch an operation against the city's mafia. The pair reportedly fell out after Wang informed Bo that his family was the subject of a police investigation into the death of Heywood.

Wang is said to have told US diplomats during his brief stay at the embassy last month that Gu had poisoned Heywood, who was found dead in Chongqing in November 2011. Initial police reports suggest that he had died of excessive drinking. It is believed that his accusations prompted the re-investigation into Heywood's death.

Earlier, Bo was widely expected to be elected as a member of the nine-member standing committee of the CPC Politburo, the innermost core of power, when the party adopts a once-in-a-decade leadership change. The latest developments indicate Bo's political career might be effectively finished.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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