The whereabouts of Bo Guagua has been a mystery since his father, Bo Xilai—a disgraced former Chinese Communist Party official known for human rights violations and his involvement in an attempted political coup—was given a life sentence in 2013 and is now in a Chinese prison.
Now, the younger Bo, 32, has resurfaced. According to a Dec. 15 report by Canadian media outlet The Globe and Mail, he has been working as a business analyst for the past two and a half years for Power Corporation, a Canadian multinational management and holding company with stakes in many sectors, including financial, energy, and sportswear.
Bo’s employment at Power Corp. was confirmed by the company’s vice-president and general counsel Stéphane Lemay, who said that Bo joined the company “through an internship program.”
The hiring of Bo was much more than just a simple business decision, according to The Globe and Mail. Bo’s family has close ties with the Desmarais family, who has controlled Power Corp. since 1968, the outlet reported.
In the late 1970s, Bo’s grandfather Bo Yibo, a revolutionary Maoist henchman who was the first finance minister under the Chinese regime, was said to have visited the Desmarais home in Canada, according to the outlet.
In 1997, André Desmarais, then president of the Candian company, met Bo Yibo in Beijing. According to The Globe and Mail, Desmarais described the meeting as an “exceptional privilege” to be able to sit down with “an idol of genuine historical importance.”
According to The Globe and Mail, Bo Yibo became an influential Party elder who supported former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform of opening up China’s market to the world during the 1980s.
After Bo Yibo, Power Corp. also built a relationship with Bo Xilai, the outlet reported. Former Candian prime minister Jean Chrétien, who is also the father-in-law of André Desmarais, once described Bo Xilai as an “old friend,” according to The Globe and Mail.
Power Corp. has “maintained very good relations with many of China’s leaders throughout these years, including with the Bo family,” Lemay said, according to the outlet.
Bo Xilai’s political career began in the early 1990s, when he was mayor of Dalian, a port city in northeastern China’s Liaoning Province. He was mayor from 1993 until 2000 when he was named provincial governor of Liaoning. In 2004, he took the post as the country’s commerce minister. Three years later, in November 2007, he was named communist party secretary to the Chinese megacity of Chongqing, where he held the post until March 2012.
At Chongqing, Bo Xiliai stirred up Maoist-style rallies and social policies, and according to The Epoch Times’ previous reporting, made his intentions clear that he was aiming for a more powerful Party position—maybe the most powerful position as the party’s secretary.
The Epoch Times’ previously reported that Bo Xilai conspired with Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief in China who is now imprisoned, to carry out a political coup and usurp Xi Jinping, who was named as the new Chinese leader in the 18th National Congress in 2012.
That year, Bo Xilai was dismissed as Chongqing party chief in March, suspended from his Poliburto post in April, and expelled from the Chinese Communist Party in September. In the same month, he was sentenced to life in prison for bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power.
Bo Xilai and Zhou both supported Beijing’s persecution against the spiritual practice Falun Gong, which began in July 1999 under the former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, the ongoing persecution has resulted in hundreds of thousands of adherents being sent to prisons, brainwashing centers, labor camps, and psychiatric wards—many have died as a result.
The hiring of so-called “princelings,” or children of government officials or senior executives of state-owned companies in Asia has been a practice employed by Western companies to gain entry into the Chinese market in a “quid pro quo” arrangement.
Several U.S. banks have been penalized as a result of this hiring practice. In 2016, JPMorgan paid U.S. authorities $264 million to resolve allegations that it hired relatives of Chinese officials, according to Reuters.
In July 2018, Credit Suisse agreed to pay about $77 million to the U.S. government to settle bribery probes over hiring and promotion practices of people connected with Chinese and other government officials from 2007 to 2013, Reuters reported.
In August this year, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay more than $16 million to settle corruption charges by hiring relatives of Chinese and Russian government officials, according to Reuters.
Paul Evans, a China scholar at the University of British Columbia, told The Globe and Mail that the Bo family might be far from power, but the younger Bo “could have insights into individuals and their business operations that a company as sophisticated as Power Corp. could take advantage of.”
Yu Jie, a U.S.-based Chinese dissident writer told The Globe and Mail that the children of many powerful Chinese officials are working in overseas companies.
“It shows that this Chinese mode of doing business is now spreading worldwide on a global level. It’s like a terrible virus,” Yu said. “Employment of this nature is not the result of free market forces.”