Editor's note: This is the seventh of a series on Bo Xilai. This series will appear on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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TORONTO--Reporter Jiang Weiping had brought down crooked Chinese Communist Party officials in the past, but his campaign to expose corruption reached a new and dangerous level when he targeted the powerful mayor of Dalian.
Jiang’s first salvo against the mayor came in the July 1999 issue of Frontline, a Hong Kong monthly magazine, under the sensational headline: “Bo Xilai only swats flies although he says he tans the hide off tigers.”
The cover story was written by “Li Yueyan,” a pen name of Jiang, who was a Dalian-based reporter for Wen Wei Po, a Chinese-language newspaper published in Hong Kong, at the time.
The article roundly criticized Bo, saying he only targeted the weak in his “clean politics” campaign while overlooking the wrongdoings by the powerful.
Earlier that year, the Dalian city prosecutor’s office searched the offices of the Dalian Ribao (Dalian Daily), the official paper of the city’s party committee, and detained four executives on suspicion of embezzling the company’s advertising expenses.
Jiang’s Frontline article revealed the background behind the punitive action against the newspaper.
Bo had asked the Dalian Ribao to buy a new building for 500 million yuan (some 6 billion yen). His wife, Gu Kailai, a lawyer, had served as a legal counsel for the construction company that built the building. And she held a 20-percent stake in the company.
When the newspaper’s publisher refused to buy the building, its offices were searched.
The article also said that another corporate client of Gu was receiving special favors from the municipal government headed by her husband. It accused the couple of “working in tandem” to feather their own nest.
“She is traveling around the world, staying at luxury hotels,” the article said. “Where does the money come from?”
Six years had passed since Bo became the mayor of Dalian, and the northern port city was preparing for a visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin slated for the following month.
The journalist had long known Bo and witnessed the change in his personality as he rose up the ranks. Jiang eventually became severely critical of Bo’s abuse of power and decided to tell the truth about the Dalian mayor.
Jiang had waged successful campaigns against corrupt party officials before.
About half a year before tackling Bo, Jiang wrote a report for Frontline about how Ma Xiangdong, vice mayor of Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, used public funds for a gambling spree. The report said Ma spent as much as 40 million yuan (480 million yen) in just one night at a casino in Macau.
Jiang also pointed an accusing finger at Qian Dihua, mayor of Daqing, a city in Heilongjiang province. The expose said Qian had misappropriated public funds to buy condominiums for each of his 29 mistresses.
Jiang, who now lives in exile in Toronto, said he could write those articles because he was part of the establishment, having spent a total of 12 years working for the Dalian Ribao and the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
After Jiang’s reports were published, Ma was sentenced to death and Qian received a 10-year prison term.
But Bo was different from these ordinary party bigwigs. His father, Bo Yibo, who had belonged to the party’s top echelons, was still alive. President Jiang Zemin, who treated Bo as his protege, had consolidated his power base within the party.
Bo launched a counterattack against the reporter.
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