Wiretapping the Chinese President May Have Hurt Bo Xilai a Little

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The latest piece to fall into place in the Bo Xilai scandal is a big one: The former Chongqing Communist Party secretary apparently wiretapped Chinese President Hu Jintao, which goes a long way toward explaining why the party came down so hard on Bo. 

As The New York Times, which carried Thursday's scoop, points out: "Until now, the downfall of Mr. Bo has been cast largely as a tale of a populist who pursued his own agenda too aggressively for some top leaders in Beijing and was brought down by accusations that his wife had arranged the murder of Neil Heywood, a British consultant, after a business dispute." And in a secretive government such as China's that seemed enough to have Bo removed from his post in Chongqing and then suspended from the 25-member Politburo, which runs the country.

But the news that Bo was wiretapping his fellow party comrades (and superiors) months ago indicates he saw them as either a threat or an obstacle on his way to greater power. And it gives Communist Party leaders "another compelling reason... to turn on Mr. Bo," The Times' Jonathan Ansfield and Ian Johnson write.

Overall, the revelation points to just how deep the mistrust runs within China's government, even with everyone supposedly in the same party, experts told The Times. What's extra ironic about this case is that Bo apparently used a wire surveillance system financed by the government and set up to crack down on organized crime in Chongqing, which is what made him so popular in the first place.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.