Jury still out on China's corruption campaign despite Bo Xilai's trial

Angus Walker

Former ITV News Correspondent

Bo Xilai will go on trial next Thursday. Credit: REUTERS/Jason Lee

So the rumours were right; Bo Xilai will go on trial at end of August, next Thursday the 22nd, according to Chinese state media.

Bo Xilai will be the most senior Chinese politician to face trial for decades. He hasn't been seen in public since March last year. First he was investigated by the Communist Party before being handed over to the state run courts.

He's charged with bribery, corruption and abuse of power. His role in the death of a British business consultant, Neil Heywood, is yet to become clear.

Mr Heywood was found dead in a hotel room in the city where Bo was the Party Chief who ran the city like his own kingdom. Bo's wife Gu Kailai was found guilty last year of poisoning Neil Heywood, who'd been helping Bo and his wife with overseas business deals.

Bo is not formally being charged with involvement in the death of Neil Heywood, but the murder was brought to light by Bo's police chief at the time, who blew the whistle on the crime when he was trying unsuccessfully to defect to the USA.

Gu Kailai with her husband Bo Xilai. Credit: Reuters

This long, complicated scandal has proved to be highly sensitive for the Chinese leadership. How to present this case in court while avoiding too much scrutiny on the lives and fortunes of other senior politicians has been the main minefield.

Now the trial of Bo is being portrayed in the media as the centre case of a new national campaign against corruption. No one is above the law is the message from state media.

The verdict will be, without doubt, guilty, almost 100% of criminal defendants are found guilty in China. Bo will probably end up being locked up in a state villa somewhere outside Beijing, the fate of previous senior convicted or purged leaders.

The jury is still out on the campaign against corruption.