Harvard Kennedy School student Bo Guagua, son of deposed Chinese Communist Party leader Bo Xilai, addressed the media for the first time in weeks in an exclusive statement to The Crimson. The statement, published in full by The Crimson online on Tuesday, shied away from his father’s political downfall and the recent murder accusation against his mother and instead offered Bo Guagua’s perspective on the rampant speculation in the international media regarding his private life and personal endeavors.
He addressed claims made in the press about his grades, his social life, and even the make of car that he drives.
Officials removed Bo’s father from his position as Party secretary of China’s Chongqing municipality in March and then ousted him from the Politburo—China’s most influential political body—the following month. Though Chinese officials did not disclose a reason for Bo Xilai’s removal, allegations of corruption and overextension of power have swirled against him for months.
In his statement on Tuesday, Bo addressed accusations that he lives a lavish lifestyle beyond the means of a government salary. He wrote that his private school education had been funded entirely by scholarships and assistance from his mother. He also denied media reports that he drove a Ferrari.
Much of his statement countered media reports of his supposedly poor academic performance and accusations that he was not qualified for admission to the Kennedy School.
“My examination records have been solid throughout my schooling years,” Bo defended himself, claiming a straight-A record on his AS and A-level exams in secondary school in the United Kingdom.
He also said that he ended his undergraduate career at Oxford University with the highest mark of distinction in philosophy awarded to degree recipients.
Bo, who also spoke to The Crimson in a phone conversation, wrote in an email that he remains enrolled at the Kennedy School and intends to complete the requirements to receive his degree. He declined to specify his current location or respond to queries about whether he intends to return to China after graduating.
Bo remained quiet on questions surrounding his parents and the political situation in China.
The statement made no mention of Neil Heywood, the British businessman whose murder last fall has been much discussed in connection with Bo since his mother was charged with the crime earlier this month.
Heywood, who had long lived in China before his death, has been said to have helped Bo gain admission to Harrow School—a prestigious English secondary school—and later to Oxford.
According to a Daily Mail report, Chinese authorities said that the family’s relationship with Heywood soured following “a conflict over economic interests.”
While he was a student in England, Bo’s behavior came under scrutiny as reporters examined rumors of his father’s corruption. Many questioned how the family could afford to underwrite their son’s private education and allegedly glamorous social life.
In his statement on Tuesday, Bo expressed graditude to the Harvard community for its support as he has avoided the intense gaze of the media in recent weeks.
Here is the Statement:
Harvard Kennedy School student Bo Guagua corresponded with Crimson staff writers Hana N. Rouse and Justin C. Worland on Tuesday via his Kennedy School and Google email accounts and sent The Crimson a statement, which is published verbatim below.
To Whom It May Concern:
Recently, there has been increasing attention from the press on my private life. As a result of these speculations, I feel responsible to the public to provide an account of the facts. I am deeply concerned about the events surrounding my family, but I have no comments to make regarding the ongoing investigation. It is impossible to address all of the rumours and allegations about myself, but I will state the facts regarding some of the most pertinent claims.
• 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.
• My examination records have been solid throughout my schooling years. In the British public examination of GCSEs, which I completed at the age of 16, I achieved 11 ‘A Stars,’ whereas the necessary requirement is no more than 9 and ‘A’ grades are considered good marks. I also earned straight A’s for both AS level and A-level Examinations at the ages of 17 and 18, respectively.
• At the University of Oxford, I studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics. I was a ‘tripartite’, being enrolled in all three subjects, rather than dropping one in the second year, as is the norm. Upon graduating, I earned a 2:1 degree (Second Class, First Honours) overall and achieved a First in Philosophy.
• During my time at Oxford, it is true that I participated in ‘Bops,’ a type of common Oxford social event, many of which are themed. These events are a regular feature of social life at Oxford and most students take part in these college-wide activities.
• Like many other university students, I also devoted time and energy to extra-curricular activities. For example, I debated in the Oxford Union and served as president of the Politics, Philosophy and Economics Society. These extra-curricular activities enabled me to broaden my perspective, serve the student community, and experience all that Oxford has to offer. I am proud to have been the first mainland Chinese student to be elected to the Standing Committee of the Oxford Union, and I truly value the close friendships I formed with my fellow students.
• I have never lent my name to nor participated in any for-profit business or venture, in China or abroad. However, I have been involved in developing a not-for-profit social networking website in China, the aim of which is to assist NGOs in raising awareness of their social missions and connecting with volunteers. This initiative has been based out of the Harvard Innovation Lab, with the participation of fellow students and friends. The project remains in the development stage and is not live.
• I have never driven a Ferrari. I have also not been to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing since 1998 (when I obtained a previous U.S. Visa), nor have I ever been to the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in China. Even my student Visas were issued by the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, which is closer to my home of five years.
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank my teachers, friends and classmates for their support during this difficult time. In particular, I wish to thank the Harvard Kennedy School for the support it has extended to me as a member of its community. I understand that at the present, the public interest in my life has not diminished. However, I wholeheartedly request that members of the press kindly refrain from intruding into the lives of my teachers, friends and classmates.
—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at email@example.com.