Bo Xilai: Support grows for politician held by Chinese authorities

Sacked Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who battled organized crime in Chongqing.

Support for Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party chief for Chongqing, is growing amid reports that he has gone on hunger strikes to protest his being held in an undisclosed location while the Chinese government prepares a case against him, Fairfax Media reported.

China’s Politburo has accused Bo of being involved in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in Nov. 2011 as well as accepting bribes and ''maintaining illicit relationships with numerous women,” Fairfax Media reported. Bo’s wife and a police chief were convicted of Heywood’s murder in 2012.

The government has not yet formally charged Bo nor announced a date for the trial, according to Fairfax Media. He has not been seen in public since March 2012.

"He was on hunger strike twice and force fed," a source told Reuters last week. "He was not tortured, but fell ill and was taken to a hospital in Beijing for treatment.”

Other sources said Bo had not gone on hunger strikes but was unwell and refusing to cooperate with the Chinese authorities, Fairfax Media reported.

"His still-loyal associates and friends are apparently pushing back against his detention, while Bo himself has refused to cooperate and may have gone on hunger strike, though this is disputed," said GlobalPost Senior Correspondent in Hong Kong Benjamin Carlson.

"Even a year later, disposing of Bo remains a key challenge for the Communist Party, as the corruption of which they're accusing him could likewise be charged to any number of senior officials," he said.

A source told Reuters that Bo was also refusing to shave and that his beard had grown to chest-length.

"We know China's court procedures are like a show,” lawyer He Weifang told Fairfax Media. ''So it requires good rehearsals beforehand and the need for Bo to be cooperative about his sentence. They won't dare open the trial while there is any disobedience."

"This is not good for the party's image,” Bao Tong, the most senior official jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen protests, told Reuters. “They have not thought about this clearly. If they are able to properly deal with a big shot like Bo Xilai then they will increase people's trust in the party.”

More from GlobalPost: Bo Xilai: China's Communists attempt to exorcise a comrade

Related Stories