His death was vaguely blamed on an unnamed incurable illness by state media, while the military reported suicide. At the time it happened, Chinese netizens suspected the death on May 13, 2012 of Ruan Zhibo, a high ranking military officer, was murder.
Those suspicions have just been supported by a report on a Hong Kong-based website that claims former domestic security czar assassinated Ruan.
The new piece in the puzzle happened back in March last year. Bo Xilai, then the Party boss of the southwestern megalopolis Chongqing, was in Beijing to attend the “two meetings”—the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Bo Xilai knew that his former right-hand man Wang Lijun had been interrogated for a month and may have sensed he was running out of time before Party central would move against him.
According to Waicannews.com, on March 9 Bo flew back to Chongqing, and in the airport he met the 62-year-old General Ruan, who was deputy commander of the Chengdu military district, which is just west of Chongqing.
Bo wanted Ruan to help in formulating an emergency plan in case of political fallout during the two meetings.
The Waican News report said Bo revealed to Ruan that he and Zhou Yongkang were planning a political coup, trusting that Ruan would support them. Ruan faked collusion and then “reported his secret meeting with Bo to the central government.”
Recent military information, according to Waican News indicates that Ruan had started an investigation into the coup.
On March 15, the day after the close of the National People’s Congress, Bo was stripped of all of his Party titles and put under house arrest.
On April 10, “The CCP’s Central Military Commission dispatched five investigation inspection groups to the Chengdu Military Region with the intention of investigating military officials who were suspected of having links to Bo Xilai,” according to a previous Epoch Times report.
Bo and Zhou may have needed to keep Ruan quiet. Waican News says Ruan was murdered as a preventative measure by Zhou Yongkang.
The suspicion that Zhou might be involved in murder is not new. Zhou has been rumored to be a suspect in the death of his first wife. He once threatened a dissident, saying, “we can eliminate anyone on earth.”
China Gaze reported that “an anonymous Beijing insider revealed that the once third most powerful politician in China is being investigated on charges of murder, corruption, and plotting to overthrow the government.”
One netizen on Sina Weibo listed four other military officials who have died since 2007 of what were described by state media as “incurable illnesses.” He noted drily, “Being a high-ranking military official seems to be a very hazardous occupation, with such a high likelihood of dying from so-called ‘incurable illnesses.'”