Thumb-running in China?

A theory – from a usually unreliable source – about the murder of Neil Heywood by the wife of the Communist Party boss of Congquing.

One of the odd bits about living in Washington is that the street newsboxes have not one but two English-language papers about Chinese affairs: China Times, which stands to the CCP about as Fox News stands to the Republican Party, and Epoch Times, which is affiliated with the banned Falun Gung religious movement.

In the months since the Chongquing saga featuring dead British grifter Neil Heywood, local party boss (and failed competitor for national power) Bo Xilai, his wife Gu Kailai (who has now been convicted of Heywood’s murder) and, Bo’s sidekick and police chief Wang Lijun, who suddenly tried to take refuge in the local U.S. consulate, China Times studiously covered ribbon-cuttings and statistics on the rice harvest while Epoch Times published one lurid story after another. (Today the on-line China Times reports on Wang’s trial by printing a Xinhua press release that doesn’t mention Bo at all.)

From the beginning, the greatest puzzle seemed to be what Heywood could possibly have known that made killing him seem like a good idea. Epoch Times has now offered a theory, though without providing any evidence: that Gu and Bo were involved in the traffic in organs for transplant “harvested” from unconsenting victims. That seems to meet the criterion of something worth killing to cover up, but since Epoch Times wants you to believe that the CCP is the source of all evil in the world I don’t put any great credence in its reporting.

Does any reader know anything that could sustain or refute the charge?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

7 thoughts on “Thumb-running in China?”

  1. I can’t comment on that claim in particular, but among knowledgeable China hands (Lord, how I hate that term), the Epoch Times is not seen as a particularly credible source.

    1. I’ll second that. Although they occasionally hit the ball out of the park, majority of the stories are tendentious fabrications. As for harvesting organs, there are plenty of cases of this happening in China not to have singled Bo out and, yes, local party officials are usually involved. But Bo was too high placed for this–at worst, it sounds like he would have been receiving kickbacks from various operations, without necessarily knowing what they were. That’s how business has traditionally been conducted in Eastern Europe (e.g., Russia before, during and after the Soviets) and China has always had its share of official corruption. In fact, corruption in China is an artform.

    2. The Epoch Times is famously an anti-PRC publication, founded by Falun Gong members and blocked in China. None of this is to their discredit, of course (being blocked by government censors must surely be a badge of pride), but they do have an axe to grind, and I’d hardly trust them to avoid poorly sourced lurid stories that appear to cast discredit on the Chinese government.

      1. The great irony is that The Epoch Times stories on other subjects appear to be more reliable than their stories on China. When it comes to China and it’s foreign and domestic policy, the paper becomes a propaganda organ.

  2. If Heywood was getting money out of the country for them, and he was trying to blackmail them into giving him a bigger cut, that’s likely plenty of reason to kill him.

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