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Son of disgraced Chinese leader Bo breaks silence
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 25, 2012

The son of a disgraced Chinese leader being investigated for abuse of power has broken his silence to deny he enjoyed a lavish lifestyle paid for with the proceeds of corrupt business deals.

Bo Guagua, who is currently studying at Harvard in the United States, has come under intense scrutiny since his father Bo Xilai and mother Gu Kailai became implicated in the biggest political scandal to hit China in decades.

His partying and allegedly extravagant lifestyle have triggered criticism in a country where the rich-poor divide is widening and anger over corruption and perceived impunity among leaders and their children is on the rise.

In a statement to The Harvard Crimson -- Harvard's university newspaper -- the 24-year-old broke his weeks-long silence, denying reports he drove a Ferrari and addressing questions over his expensive overseas education.

"My tuition and living expenses at Harrow School, University of Oxford and Harvard University were funded exclusively by two sources -- scholarships earned independently, and my mother's generosity from the savings she earned from her years as a successful lawyer and writer," he said.

Gu is currently under investigation in China for the suspected murder of British national Neil Heywood, who reportedly facilitated Bo Guagua's entry into Britain's exclusive Harrow School.

Bo Xilai, meanwhile, was sacked from his post as boss of Chongqing city last month and then suspended from the Communist Party's hugely powerful, 25-member Politburo for "serious discipline violations" -- shorthand in China for graft.

"I am deeply concerned about the events surrounding my family, but I have no comments to make regarding the ongoing investigation," Bo Guagua said in the statement published on Tuesday in the United States.

Even before his father's ouster, photos of Bo Guagua emerged online showing him partying at Oxford and posing with girls in an unusually public display for a Chinese leader's offspring, and rumours spread that he drove a Ferrari.

But in his statement, he said he had never driven a Ferrari, adding that he instead attended parties, like most other students at Oxford.

When it announced his mother's probe for murder earlier this month, the official Xinhua news agency also implicated Bo Guagua, saying he and Gu "had conflict" with Heywood "over economic interests, which had been intensified".

But in the statement, Bo Guagua said he had never lent his name to -- or participated in -- any for-profit businesses or ventures in China or abroad.

He also sought to quell reports that he had been a bad student, and pointed out he had obtained top grades in 11 subjects in public exams taken in Britain.

He added he had been awarded a 2:1 in his Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree at Oxford -- the second best class of degree.

The statement -- posted on the newspaper's website -- drew varied comments from readers.

"You need to imagine the kind of pressure he's been under -- journalists staking out his apartment, stalking his classmates, and even talking to his dry cleaner.... Give him a break," said one.

Others, however, expressed doubt about his claims.

"If you wanna be a star and enjoy a sweet ride on power and money, then don't blame people trying to have a peek at your life," one said.

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