Bo Xilai

Timeline: the Chongqing scandal

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 September, 2012, 4:22pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 September, 2012, 4:58pm

Bo Xilai: chief secretary of Chongqing from 2007- 2012. Bo, 63, was the son of a senior Communist Party leader. Before the scandal, he had been widely expected to become a member of Standing Committee of the Politburo after the 18th party congress.

Gu Kailai: Bo Xilai’s second wife. Aged 53, Gu is the youngest of five daughters of the famous revolutionary general. A fluent English speaker, Gu was a successful lawyer, businesswoman, and author. She became famous for publishing a book about her winning a civil suit in America. 

Neil Heywood: a Harrow-educated British businessman who had lived in China since the 1990s. Heywood married a local woman, Wang Lulu. He spoke fluent Putonghua and met Bo Xilai in the 1990s. But Heywood came into an “economic conflict” with Gu and subsequently threatened her son, she claimed during her trial.

Zhang Xiaojun: a former civil servant in Chongqing and family aide of the Bo family at the time.

Wanng Lijun: police chief and vice-mayor of Chongqing. Wang Lijun was well-regarded for his crackdown on gang activities.

Guo Weiguo: the deputy police chief of Chongqing. He reported directly to Wang.


November 13, 2011

Gu Kailai, with Zhang Xiaojun’s aid, pours poison into Neil Heywood’s mouth after Heywood becomes drunk in a hotel room in Beijing. Gu has had a business dispute with Heywood, who posed a threat to the safety of her son, Bo Guagua.

November 14, 2011

Gu confesses to Wang Lijun about the murder. Wang secretly tapes the conversation. 

November 15, 2011

Heywood’s body was found in his hotel room. Wang points Chongqing deputy chief police Guo Weiguo to be responsible for the case, but Wang hides the recording from officers handling the case and holds onto evidence such as blood samples taken from the victim.

November 16, 2011

Guo Weiguo and three other police officers conclude that Heywood’s death is caused by alcohol poisoning. Wang Lijun does not raise objections.

November 18, 2011

Heywood’s body is cremated.

January 29, 2012

Wang Lijun is slapped by Bo Xilai after he informs Bo about everything he knows regarding Heywood’s death.

Later that day, Wang secretly orders two of his aides to archive all of the information about Heywood’s case.

February 2, 2012

Wang is stripped of his title as police chief but retains his vice-mayor title. His three other aides are under secret investigation.

February 6, 2012

Wang enters the United States consulate in Chengdu and asks for political asylum.

February 7, 2012

After a conversation with agents from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, Wang agrees to be investigated and leaves the consulate after a 33-hour stay.

February 8, 2012

The Chongqing government announces that Wang has been authorised to undergo vacation-style medical treatment. 

March 15, 2012

Bo Xilai’s governing titles in Chongqing are stripped.

April 10, 2012

Bo Xilai’s partisan titles are stripped.

August 20, 2012

Gu Kailai, convicted of murder, receives a suspended death sentence, normally commuted to life sentence after two years. Zhang Xiaojun is sentenced to nine years in jail.

September 20, 2012

A Xinhua report covering Wang Lijun’s trial, for the first time, revealed Bo Xilai’s direct involvement in the case.

Although it does not mention Bo by name, the report refers to him as “a principal person in charge of the Chongqing Municipal [Communist Party] Committee at the time”.

September 24, 2012

Wang Lijun is sentenced to 15 years in jail for bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and receiving bribes.

September 28, 2012

The Communist Party announces that Bo is stripped of his Party membership and all official roles, and will be handed over to judicial authorities to face justice.