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.
are in business. Why was Wen Jiabao, who is retiring in 2013, singled out? It is simple. By repeatedly advocating democratic reforms, he made many party senior leaders and elders nervous about their future. At the same time, Wen’s high-profile role in the anti-Bo campaign made him the number-one enemy among Bo supporters. Both groups want to destroy his legacy and credibility, making it harder for his successor to continue his liberal policies. Wen has become a vulnerable victim in a new round of
billionaire businessman in Dalian and a friend of the Bos, contacted Wang Lijun, who had by then become a celebrity in China’s northeast due to the popular TV drama based on his life. Xu invited Wang to handle the investigation. Wang solved the case in a matter of days and had Bo’s family driver and a helper arrested. In 2008, one year after Bo’s appointment as the party secretary of Chongqing, he was concerned that organized crime was rampant and considered the then-police chief, a protégé of
personnel carriers on the streets and a heavy police presence. When I was growing up in China, there was a popular saying, “The government policies are as changeable as the summer storm weather.” People in Chongqing waited to see which way the storms would blow. A few hours after Bo Xilai was deposed, a notice went up on a bulletin board near the People’s Square in the center of Chongqing, where a large group used to gather to sing red songs. The notice read: We have received complaints from
hired by local officials to detect and debug surveillance devices in their offices, cars, and bedrooms, told Chongqing Evening News that wiretapping became prevalent in Bo’s Chongqing. In 2011, he deactivated more than three hundred audio and video monitoring devices secretly planted by officials’ wives, lovers, supervisors, and competitors. Chongqing Evening News revealed that bugging is now being used as a common tool in power struggles at all levels of the government—officials spy on each
procedure. If that was the case, how could the forensic expert fail to detect the obvious hypostasis and blood as an unusually bright red color? If the forensic expert ignored the signs to cover up for the criminal, he or she should be held responsible for listing Heywood’s death as “excessive drinking” after the criminal acts were exposed. Four policemen have been convicted for the cover-up, but I don’t see the name of the forensic expert on the list of the convicted. In other words, the initial