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Bo Xilai’s Supporters Demonstrate Outside China Courthouse

Former Chinese Politburo member Bo Xilai
Bo Xilai, former Chinese Communist Party secretary of Chongqing, attends a plenary session during the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, on Friday, March 9, 2012

Demonstrators in southern China unfurled a banner in support of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai outside a courthouse where some reports said his trial was due to begin today.

“Secretary Bo, corrupt and incompetent officials envy you, the people love you,” said the red banner with gold letters, held by a man and a woman outside the Guiyang Intermediate People’s Court in the southern province of Guizhou. The two folded up the banner and left after about a minute.

The protest illustrates the support Bo attracted for his brand of leadership, which stressed cutting wealth disparities, even as the Communist Party sought to portray him as corrupt. Bo was ousted as party secretary of Chongqing Municipality in March and expelled from the party in September, after his wife was convicted for the murder of a U.K. businessman.

“He wanted to reduce the income gap,” said Yuan Qihui, 63, a resident of neighboring Chongqing who came out to support Bo. “All the people in Chongqing support him.”

Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported on its website on Jan. 25 that Bo’s trial would begin today in Guiyang. The court hasn’t received any notices on holding Bo’s trial, court official Jiang Hao said in a live television broadcast on Hong Kong’s Cable TV today. The state-run Global Times newspaper reported today that Bo’s trial would be held after the National People’s Congress in March.

Possible Candidate

Once seen as a possible candidate for the ruling Politburo Standing Committee, Bo, 63, appealed to some people’s nostalgia for the era of People’s Republic of China founder Mao Zedong.

Bo was later accused of taking bribes throughout his career and abusing his power in the homicide case against his wife, Gu Kailai, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. He also had improper sexual relations with “a number” of women, according to Xinhua. Bo’s case was referred to the judiciary and formal charges haven’t been publicly announced.

“Despite Bo’s ouster -- and horrendous scandals surrounding him and his wife -- there has always been an undercurrent in Chinese society that supports Mao-style egalitarianisms,” said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, an adjunct professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Before his downfall, Bo masterfully exploited this Maoist nostalgia for his own political ends.”

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