Bo Guagua, a student at Balliol between 2006 and 2010, has been under intense international media scrutiny since his mother, the wife of a Chinese Communist party chief, was named as “highly suspected” in an investigation into the murder of a British businessman.
Bo Guagua, who is now studying at Harvard, is now reported to be seeking asylum in the USA, after he left his Boston home with a police escort where Chinese men were seen watching his flat.
His father Bo Xilai has been removed from his prominent position as party chief of the Chongqing branch of the Communist Party, following allegations from the Chinese media that his wife was involved with the death of Neil Heywood.
In an article on Monday the Press Association suggested that Heywood, who worked as a consultant in China, and was closely associated with Bo Xilai, died from cyanide poisoning. State media also reported that “Bogu Kailai, wife of Comrade Bo Xilai, and their son were in good terms with Heywood. However, they had conflict over economic interests which had been intensified.”
An orderly at Bo’s home, Zhang Xiaojun, and his wife have apparently “been transferred to judicial authorities on suspected crime of intentional homicide”.
Police chief Wang Lijun, who later turned whistleblower and fled to a US consulate seeking asylum, allegedly told his officers to record Mr Heywood’s death as a heart attacked under Mr Bo’s orders.
During Bo Guagua’s time in Oxford, he was rusticated, and moved into the Randolph Hotel. Despite his depiction by British and Chinese national media as a playboy and socialite, he eventually graduated with a 2:1 in PPE.
However, Balliol refused to give a reference to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where Bo Gua gua is now studying for a masters in public policy.
One student told Cherwell that while Bo Guagua was “not especially under-prepared” academically, he “spent more time on out of college stuff, like the Union and the PPE Society” than his degree.
One anonymous student told the Telegraph, “He never held back on spending. He was always buying people drinks”. Another recalled his failed attempt to rise to prominence in the Union: “A whole bunch of Chinese students came to vote for Guagua. They couldn’t as they had only joined the day before. Guagua tried to argue about it but there was nothing he could do.”
In 2007, three Chinese diplomats visited Balliol to request the university were more lenient on Bo Xilai’s son, as they claimed his rustication would reflect badly on the politician in a country where education is so highly valued. One source commented, “His tutors replied if that was the case they should get him to work harder.”
A University spokesperson said, “All Oxford students are treated the same. Admission is based solely on academic merit, and there are absolutely no exceptions to that policy.”
Bo Xilai, who was a popular contender for party leadership, is currently under investigation by central party officials for “serious disciplinary violations”.