Of all the eye-popping questions sparked by the spectacular downfall of Bo Xilai, two in particular have captivated the free world’s tabloids and China’s intrepid microbloggers.
How could Mr. Bo put his son through an exclusive British boarding school, Oxford and Harvard on his official Communist Party salary of about $19,000 (U.S.) a year?
And where did the now 24-year-old Bo Guagua get that Ferrari?
The answers came from an unexpected source on Wednesday as the younger Mr. Bo apparently took it upon himself to clear things up in a statement to The Harvard Crimson, the august university’s student newspaper.
Though the Crimson also said it spoke to Mr. Bo by phone, some posters on the newspaper’s website doubted the authenticity of the statement, suggesting it was the work of Communist Party officials. Mr. Bo has not been seen on campus for days.
In the statement, Mr. Bo insisted his living expenses and tuition during more than a decade spent at Britain’s Harrow School, Oxford University and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government “were funded exclusively…by scholarships earned independently, and my mother’s generosity from the savings she earned from her years as a successful lawyer and writer.”
Mr. Bo’s mother, Gu Kailai, is facing a long prison sentence and potentially the death penalty as a suspect implicated in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, the man who reportedly used his connections to help her son earn a spot at Harrow.
Bo Xilai, the ousted mayor of Chongqing and ex-Politburo member, faces a similar fate to that of his wife. The plot surrounding his incredible rise and fall took another twist Thursday amid reports that the elder Mr. Bo spied on top Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao.
As for that Ferrari, unauthenticated photographs of which have popped up on countless websites, Bo Guagua insisted it is not his.
“I have never driven a Ferrari,” he said in his statement to The Crimson.
He did, however, give a lift in Beijing to Mary Anne Huntsman, the now 27-year-old daughter of former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. But Ms. Huntsman’s sister, Abigail, told The New York Times that she did not know what kind of car Mr. Bo drove.
Mr. Bo, who is not accused of any crime, may be paying the price for his parents’ alleged sins as the media and internet in the United States, Britain and China light up with detailed reports of his playboy lifestyle and middling academic performance.
Photos of Mr. Bo with girls on his arms, peeing in public as part of a prank with schoolmates and sporting expensive-looking dinner jackets have become fodder for deep discussions about the meaning of the scandal implicating his now infamous family.
A photo purportedly of the inside of Mr. Bo’s Boston apartment, however, shows him to have much in common with his American buddies when it comes to housekeeping. The whiskey bottle, pantyhose and Star Wars paraphernalia spotted in the mess would hardly seem out of place in any American dorm.