A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel: Murder, Money, and an Epic Power Struggle in China
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The scandalous story of the corruption of the Bo Xilai family—the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood; Bo’s secret lovers; the secret maneuverings of Bo’s supporters; the hasty trial and sentencing of Gu Kailai, Bo’s wife—was just the first rumble of a seismic power struggle that continues to rock the very foundation of China’s all-powerful Communist Party. By the time it is over, the machinations in Beijing and throughout the country that began with Bo’s fall could affect China’s economic development and disrupt the world’s political and economic order.
Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang have pieced together the details of this fascinating political drama from firsthand reporting and an unrivaled array of sources, some very high in the Chinese government. This was the first scandal in China to play out in the international media—details were leaked, sometimes invented, to non-Chinese news outlets as part of the power plays that rippled through the government. The attempt to manipulate the Western media, especially, was a fundamental dimension to the story, and one that affected some of the early reporting. A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel returns to the scene of the crime and shows not only what happened in Room 1605 but how the threat of the story was every bit as important in the life and death struggle for power that followed. It touched celebrities and billionaires and redrew the cast of the new leadership of the Communist Party. The ghost of Neil Heywood haunts China to this day.
for his courageous pro-people programs. Some powerful figures, such as Zhou Yongkang, and even President Hu Jintao, are reluctant to punish Bo. Even though Bo’s enemies want to destroy his chances of a comeback, they worry that an expanded investigation would implicate more people and create new political rivalries. Besides, with the volatile political situation in China, many officials understand very well that they could all end up like Bo someday. Come to think of it, who doesn’t have a
with the city of Chongqing in the past, inquired if Wang Lijun was mentally ill. Bo evaded the question by admitting that he hadn’t seen any warning signs. He blamed himself for hiring the wrong person. “It shows that we need to take precautions regardless of how well things are going. On the other hand, we should not be discouraged by these unexpected events. When it happens, we just need to reflect on our mistakes.” One Hong Kong reporter asked if Bo had submitted a resignation letter to the
transferred to what was later known as Camp 789, a reeducation camp where more than sixty children of ousted party leaders were imprisoned. Initially, all the detainees studied Chairman Mao’s works and were forced to report on their parents’ crimes. In the next five years, they were allowed to attend regular classes and engaged in labor-intensive farmwork under the supervision of prison officials. Often the limited food ration could not satisfy the pubescent boys, and they would eat whatever bugs
washed away. The big banners bearing Communist slogans in public places were quickly replaced with Gucci and Radar watch ads. Police removed gigantic poster boards that advocated Bo’s signature “Five Chongqing” program—building a livable Chongqing through low-cost public housing, a traffic-friendly Chongqing through more infrastructure investment, a forested green Chongqing through environmental programs, a safe Chongqing by aggressive anticrime initiatives, and a healthy Chongqing through better
Western Zhou Dynasty was vanquished. Nowadays, climbers who reach the tower can still see the characters “one smile led to the loss of a kingdom” carved on a piece of rock. At the foot of Mount Lishan was the Huaqing hot spring, which served as the bathhouse for an emperor’s voluptuous concubine in the Tang Dynasty (about 700 CE). As a young man, emperor Xuanzong was a wise and forward-looking ruler, but in later years, he became infatuated with an eighteen-year-old beauty, Yang Guifei, who was