Chinese State Media Quiet as Gu Kailai Trial Begins

Posted August 9th, 2012 at 3:35 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

China's most sensational criminal trial in recent memory got underway Thursday, as the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai appeared before a court charged with the murder of a British businessman. But you would not know it from looking at the communist country's state-controlled media.

Despite the opening of the trial, which has major implications for Chinese leadership, it appeared to be a relatively slow news day for China Central Television (CCTV), which seemed more interested in showing replays of the London Olympic Games.

The state-run Xinhua news agency also did not mention the closed-door trial of Gu Kailai, which was held at a tightly guarded courthouse in the relatively quiet eastern city of Hefei.

Chinese leaders have attempted to limit the potential political damage of the high-profile scandal, which came just months before a carefully orchestrated transfer of power within the Communist Party.

On China's popular microblogs, the country's notoriously thorough government censors have for months been busy deleting posts containing the terms “Bo Xilai,” “Gu Kailai,” and other related terms in an effort to control conversation on the topic.

On the streets, it was unclear how much the case weighed on the minds of Chinese citizens. But outside the Hefei courtroom Thursday, foreign reporters witnessed at least one activist hauled away by police as he complained about the lack of openness in China.

Chinese media have carried few official details about the tightly guarded case. In reporting the charges against Gu last month, Xinhua said there was “irrefutable and substantial” evidence that she, along with a household aide, poisoned longtime friend and business partner Neil Heywood.

Legal analysts have said that such statements, along with China's history of trying high-profile defendants and its astonishingly high criminal conviction rate, mean there is little chance that Gu will not be found guilty.