The Harvard-going son of a Chinese power couple mired in a political scandal strewn with allegations of murder and corruption is fending off talk of his lavish lifestyle.
College photos of the young man carousing at Oxford and media reports of him tooling around Beijing in a red Ferrari have only added more fuel to an explosive case centered on the alleged abuse of power.
Bo Guagua is the son of ousted Chinese Communist Party official Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Xailai, who is being held on suspicion of poisoning a British businessman who allegedly helped them smuggle money out of China to invest overseas.
The same businessman, Neil Heywood, reportedly helped Bo Guagua get into a British boarding school. The case has drawn new scrutiny to how the Chinese political elite use their sway to build fortunes for themselves and their children: One source told The Times this week that a Dalian tycoon paid for a trip to London and at least part of the tuition for Bo Guagua to attend Harrow boarding school.
In a statement to the Harvard student newspaper, Bo Guagua said he wouldn't comment on the ongoing investigation. Instead, he sought to brush back the idea that he was a privileged playboy, saying his education at Harrow, Oxford and now Harvard was paid for solely by scholarships and his mother.
His past grades were solid, he argued, listing his academic honors. He said he has never driven a Ferrari. As for Oxford parties, he said he had attended themed social events called “Bops,” which are “a regular feature at social life in Oxford and most students take part in these college-wide activities.”
Bo Guagua also said he had never given his name or participated in any business venture in China or abroad, though he is working on a nonprofit website to help charitable groups raise awareness of their missions and seek volunteers.
"I understand that at present, the public interest in my life has not diminished," the Harvard Kennedy School graduate student concluded in his statement. "However, I wholeheartedly request that members of the press kindly refrain from intruding into the lives of my teachers, friends and classmates."
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles