Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
I hope Bo Xilai has a peaceful life, says first wife Li Danyu
The former wife of Bo Xilai has made peace with the disgraced politician but is still at odds with his second wife, Gu Kailai.
Commenting for the first time since Bo’s trial last month, Li Danyu said she wished her ex-husband a “peaceful life in his later years”, according to friends of the family who met her recently.
Li made her comments before Bo’s appeal against his life sentence for charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power was rejected yesterday, the sources said. None of Bo’s family members have made their thoughts public since the court in Jinan province handed down its sentence on September 22.
“He [Bo] looked gaunt and tired in the footage shown on television,” the sources quoted Li as saying.
Li adopted a more resigned attitude about the verdict and Bo’s court performance during the sensational five-day trial, saying she believed “what’s been done is done”.
Bo, 64, was seen as a candidate for top office before his spectacular downfall.
Li, a 63-year-old former military doctor, lives in an old apartment in Beijing and has not had direct contact with Bo since their break-up in 1981 ended in discord, according to the sources.
Despite that, Li said she felt at peace with her former husband. But family friends say she is struggling to cope with her feelings for Gu, who she feels drove a wedge between Bo and their elder son, Li Wangzhi.
Bo and Gu had a son together – Bo Guagua, also known as Kuangyi.
The sources said Li Danyu believes that Gu fabricated a story that Li Wangzhi masterminded a conspiracy to poison her to damage the relationship between Bo and his elder son. As a result, Li Wangzhi lost contact with his father after the funeral of his grandfather Bo Yibo in early 2007.
Chongqing police set up a team of investigators on the orders of former police chief Wang Lijun after Gu claimed she was poisoned in a lunch at a local hotel on December 6, 2010.
Li Wangzhi was not at the lunch. But Gu’s family friends said Gu still regards him as the main suspect of the poisoning, and believes the meal made her so sick that she will be required to take medication for years.
There have been media reports earlier suggesting that Gu might actually have been poisoned because she overdosed on health products.
Gu, convicted in August 2012 for the fatal poisoning of British businessman Neil Heywood, gave key testimony during her husband’s corruption trial. These were questioned by Bo during the proceedings, with the former Chongqing party chief claiming that she was mentally unstable and had taken psychoactive drugs, people with knowledge of the trial told the Post earlier.
Bo also said Wang Lijun was trying to drive a wedge between him and his elder son by launching the investigation on Li Wangzhi, but this was later omitted from the official transcript.
Bo, who has said to have been trying to reconcile the two families, mentioned that he missed his sons in his closing statement of his trial.
In a letter in September to his family members, Bo said he was prepared to follow in his father’s footsteps by going to prison and maintained that “one day” his name would be cleared.
He sent a message to both sons. “Wangzhi and Kuangyi are good kids,” he wrote.
“I wish they can take over the family tradition and achieve something. I hope that they become good brothers.”