Fallen China politician's son defends himself

Associated Press + More

BEIJING (AP) — The son of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai defended his academic record and social life at Harvard University in a letter that was the latest example of the extraordinary public evolution of China's messiest political scandal.

A Harvard graduate student, Bo Guagua denied that he received preferential treatment in admissions, was a poor student and drove a pricey sports car. In his letter to the Harvard Crimson student newspaper published Tuesday, he said he attended social events as an Oxford University undergraduate to broaden his perspective.

Accusations of heavy partying have appeared in some Western media reports and on Chinese blogs following the announcement this month that Bo's father Bo Xilai had been suspended from the ruling Communist Party's Politburo and is under investigation for unspecified malfeasance.

Bo's mother, Gu Kailai, and an assistant were named at the same time as suspects in the murder last November of British businessman Neil Heywood, whose formerly close relations with the Bo family had soured. Bo Xilai, formerly one of China's most powerful politicians, had earlier been fired as party boss of the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing after his former police chief attempted to defect at the U.S. consulate.

In his letter, the 24-year-old Bo Guagua said he was "deeply concerned about the events surrounding my family," but had not further comments on the charges. His parents have not been heard of or seen in public since the announcements of the investigations April 10.

He said his tuition at Harvard, Oxford and the expensive British prep school he attended were covered by scholarships and his mother's earnings as a successful lawyer and author. In his letter he told denied having lent his name to any for-profit business ventures.

Apparently responding to criticism of photos posted online of him attending parties and posing with school friends, Bo said he participated in normal social events while at Oxford, partly as a way to "broaden my perspective."

"I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank my teachers, friends, and classmates for their support during this difficult time," Bo wrote.

Bo's letter was his first statement on the scandal that has shaken Chinese politics ahead of a once-in-a-generation transition to a new set of younger leaders who will chart the course for the world's most populous nation and second largest economy.

Widespread access to the Internet and the enormous popularity of China's Twitter-like Weibo microblogging service have spread news about the case in a way unseen in previous scandals. That has apparently deeply disconcerted a communist leadership more used to intense secrecy about their inner workings, prompting attempts to rein in discussion on line by banning searches for sensitive words, including "Bo Guagua."

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Bo's letter: http://bit.ly/Io8hFB

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