Bo Guagua

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Bo Kuangyi
Bo guagua VOA (1) crop.jpg
Native name 薄旷逸
Born (1987-12-17) 17 December 1987 (age 30)
Nationality Chinese
Other names Bo Jinggua (薄京瓜,[1] Bo Guagua, 薄瓜瓜)
Alma mater Balliol College, Oxford
Harvard Kennedy School
Columbia Law School
Parent(s) Bo Xilai
Gu Kailai
Bo Guagua
Chinese 薄旷逸

Bo Kuangyi[2](born 17 December 1987), more commonly known as Bo Guagua,[3] is the second son of former Chinese politician Bo Xilai, and the only child of Gu Kailai, his father's second wife. Bo attended Harrow School, read PPE at Oxford University, and studied for a master's degree at Harvard University.[4] In 2016, Bo graduated from Columbia Law School with a Juris Doctor degree.

Because his father was a high-ranking Communist Party official, Bo Guagua's life has been an occasional topic of news media gossip, which intensified and gained considerable international attention when his father was removed from office in March 2012. Both his parents came under investigation in the alleged homicide of family friend Neil Heywood, who also reportedly helped Bo during his time in the UK.[5]

Bo's father is often described as a "princeling" (offspring of Communist Party elite); his lifestyle and privileges typify those of fuerdai, and far exceed those of regular Chinese people of his age.[5][6]


Bo's father, Bo Xilai, was a high-profile Communist Party official until his removal from office in 2012. The elder Bo had been part of the 25-member Politburo, and was widely seen as a contender to join the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee. His paternal grandfather, Bo Yibo, was a prominent revolutionary leader and one of the Eight Elders of the Communist Party.

Bo's mother, Gu Kailai, is a lawyer who also hailed from a prominent family. Gu's father, Gu Jingsheng, was a Communist revolutionary. Her mother Fan Chengxiu is a descendant of the renowned Song Dynasty prime minister and poet Fan Zhongyan.[7] In the course of her career, she was involved in several notable cases. Gu is reportedly the first Chinese lawyer to win a civil suit in the United States, and she is also the author of several books.[8] Gu is the second wife of Bo Xilai. The two met in 1984 in Liaoning Province, where Bo was serving as Communist Party secretary for Jin county.[9] Bo has a half brother, Li Wangzhi, who is a Masters graduate from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in 2003.[10]


Education in the United Kingdom[edit]

At the age of 12, Bo began studying at Papplewick School in England.[11] Reportedly with the help of Neil Heywood, he was then admitted to Harrow School.[12] Bo was the first Chinese citizen to attend the school[5] where, according to Bo, he scored straight-As at his AS and A-level exams.[13]

Oxford University[edit]

Bo attended Balliol College, Oxford,[14] where he studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics.[5] Bo had an active social life and in his second year he ran unsuccessfully for a prominent position in the Oxford Union, a debating society,[5] but Bo claimed in an open letter that he was "the first mainland Chinese student to be elected to the Standing Committee of the Oxford Union.[15] Bo struggled in his academic work, and was required to sit further exams to maintain his grades.[16] According to classmates, Bo failed the exams, and was "rusticated" (suspended) for one year.[5][17] Three Chinese diplomats went to see Dr Andrew Graham, the Master of Balliol College, and sought to have the rustication revoked, explaining that Bo's academic probation would be a source of embarrassment to his father and grandfather in China.[5][16][18] The request to reinstate Bo was denied.[5] However, Bo claimed he enrolled in all three "major" subjects, unlike most of his peers.[19] The following year, Bo achieved "respectable marks" during his final exams, according to the New York Times,[5] and passed with a 2:1 degree (upper second class honours) overall, having obtained first class honours in Philosophy.[19] This notwithstanding, the New York Times asserted that Bo's tutors declined to provide him with recommendations for his application to Harvard.[5]

Bo was described as living a lavish lifestyle while at Oxford. After being suspended from college at Oxford, Bo reportedly lived in a luxury flat at the Randolph Hotel.[5][18] A front-page Wall Street Journal story alleged that Bo was seen stepping out of a red Ferrari wearing a tuxedo in early 2011 at the residence of then-U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman, Jr..[20] This anecdote was later challenged by the New York Times, which reported that Huntsman's daughter had been picked up by the function's organisers, while Bo had arrived at the function in a chauffeur-driven Audi, and was not wearing a tuxedo.[21] Bo organised trips to China for his classmates, and invited Jackie Chan to appear at a function at Oxford.[5] During his time at Oxford, Bo was featured in the Chinese edition of Esquire.[5] His decadent lifestyle made him fodder for the university paper's gossip columns on a regular basis, and also led to the coining of a new verb – "to guagua", which, according to The Independent, alludes to his charm, wealth, and abundant political connections.[16]

Bo's university directory page with Oxford describes him as the founder of the Guagua Internet Company, of which little is known.[4] In his letter published in the Harvard University student paper, Bo states that he had been involved "in developing a not-for-profit social networking website in China … to assist NGOs in raising awareness of their social missions and connecting with volunteers... The project remains in the development stage and is not live."[4]

Education in the United States[edit]

He was ultimately admitted to the Masters program in public policy at its Kennedy School of Government,[5] from which he graduated in May 2012.[22] He enrolled in Columbia Law School beginning Fall 2013.[10]

Funding controversies[edit]

After his father was stripped of all official titles by the Communist Party of China, there was much public speculation about how he was able to go to private schools in the UK and the US on his father's salary of $20,000 per year. The private Harrow School he attended costs $48,000 per year; then Oxford University's tuition alone costs about $25,000 per year; Harvard University's Kennedy School requires about $70,000 a year for both tuition and living expenses.[23] Bo's three-year course at Columbia, one of the most expensive law schools in the United States charges tuition and other fees of more than $60,000 a year, on top of which living expenses have to be factored in.[10]

The Wall Street Journal reported that he was living at a luxury apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that had a 24-hour concierge service and a sun deck at a monthly cost of approximately $2,600. He was also reported to drive a $80,000 black Porsche sports car, having collected violations for running stop signs in December 2010 and May 2011, and for speeding in February 2012.[24][25]

On 24 April 2012, Harvard University school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, published a statement by Bo, in which he stated that his tuition and living expenses were "funded exclusively by two sources—scholarships earned independently, and my mother's generosity from the savings she earned from her years as a successful lawyer and writer."[10][26] He denied that he had ever driven a Ferrari.[21] On the other hand, his father told the Chinese news media that his son was on full scholarship and his wife was a successful lawyer, but she was afraid of people spreading rumors, so she closed down her law office a long time ago.[27] At the trial of Bo Xilai that started on 22 August 2013, businessman Xu Ming testified that he paid for Bo Guagua's travel and credit card bills, although during cross-examination Bo Xilai challenged many of the payments.[28]

Public image[edit]

Bo's lifestyle has been a subject of gossip and public interest, both internationally and within China. Bo's lifestyle has been critically contrasted to his father's efforts to revive a "red culture" movement in Chongqing, which included the singing of revolutionary songs and promotion of Maoist slogans.[6] The conspicuous consumption and privilege of the children of Chinese leaders such as Bo Guagua is a source of widespread resentment within China.[6] Unlike some children of party leaders who maintain a low profile, Bo cultivated an unusually public persona.[5] When Bo Xilai was suspended from his party positions, party leaders listed the younger Bo's behavior as one of the causes.[5][29] Bo's lifestyle as a playboy, having been widely circulated in the international press, is widely suspected of being an embarrassment to Communist Party leadership in Beijing. The latter have made it known that they are eager for him to return to the country to keep his parents company.[16]


  1. ^ 薄瓜瓜 薄瓜瓜 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 29 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Keith Zhai (19 September 2013). "Bo Xilai jail letter: My name will be cleared one day". South China Morning Post. 
  3. ^ "薄瓜瓜答问摘录" (in Chinese). Southern Weekend. 2 July 2009. Archived from the original on 26 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Tania Branigan, Bo Xilai's family in spotlight over website bought for $100,000, The Guardian, 25 April 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Andrew Jacobs and Dan Levin, Son’s Parties and Privilege Aggravate Fall of Elite Chinese Family, The New York Times, 16 April 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Page, Jeremy "Children of the Revolution", The Wall Street Journal. 26 November 2011.
  7. ^ "Wife of sacked Chongqing boss a woman of many talents" Archived 23 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Want China Times 19 March 2012.
  8. ^ Page, Jeremy U.K. Seeks Probe Into China Death, The Wall Street Journal, 26 March 2012.
  9. ^ Jeremy Page, Brian Spegele, and Steve Eder, "'Jackie Kennedy of China' at Center of Political Drama", The Wall Street Journal, 6 April 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d Wong, Edward; Qin, Amy (29 July 2013) "Son of Fallen Chinese Official Enrolls at Columbia Law School". The New York Times
  11. ^ Patrick Sawer, Josie Ensor and Richard Eden, Neil Heywood mystery: Gilded lifestyle of murder suspect's son Bo Guagua, The Daily Telegraph, 14 April 2012.
  12. ^ Martin Beckford, Neil Heywood 'gave Bo Xilai's financial secrets to lawyer before his death', The Daily Telegraph, 13 April 2012.
  13. ^ Rouse, Hana N. and Worland, Justin C. (25 April 2012). "Bo Guagua Focuses on Personal Life, Not Family Scandal, in Statement to The Crimson". The Harvard Crimson
  14. ^ Vanessa Allen, Peter Simpson and Daniel Bates, "Champagne, shisha parties and VERY little work: How Oxford tutors complained about playboy son of Chinese 'murder' couple", Daily Mail, 12 April 2012.
  15. ^ ABC News, "Bo Xilai’s Son Defends Self Against ‘Notorious’ Rumors", 25 April 2012.
  16. ^ a b c d James Rothwell (10 September 2013). "Bo Guagua: The student playboy whose lavish lifestyle could be his". The Independent. 
  17. ^ Melinda Liu, Neil Heywood & China’s Bo Xilai Scandal: Drinker, Sailor, Fixer, Spy?, Newsweek, 30 March 2012.
  18. ^ a b Holehouse, Matthew (13 April 2012). Neil Heywood mystery: Bo Guagua, the student playboy who earned contempt of tutors, and forced Chinese diplomats into pleading his case, The Daily Telegraph.
  19. ^ a b Bo, Guagua (24 April 2012). "An Exclusive Statement from Bo Guagua to The Harvard Crimson". The Harvard Crimson
  20. ^ Page, Jeremy (9 March 2012). "China's Red Star Denies Son Drives a Red Ferrari". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  21. ^ a b Barboza; David; Wong, Edward (1 May 2012). "Details Are Refuted in Tale of Bo Guagua's Red Ferrari". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  22. ^ The Daily Telegraph (2012). Reuters: Bo Xilai's son graduates from Harvard. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  23. ^ Shanghaiist (21 May 2012). "Washington Post peers into princelings educated abroad". 
  24. ^ "Bo's Son Ticketed in Porsche". The Wall Street Journal. 
  25. ^ "Details Are Refuted in Tale of Bo Guagua's Red Ferrari". Daily Mail. London. 27 April 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  26. ^ Guagua, Bo (31 October 2013). "An Exclusive Statement from Bo Guagua to". The Harvard Crimson. 
  27. ^ 薄熙来:夫人担心有人造谣关掉律师事务所 做家务陪伴我 (in Chinese). 龙虎网站. 11 March 2012. Archived from the original on 24 August 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  28. ^ "Bo Xilai trial as blogged by the court – Day One". BBC. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  29. ^ Mosettig, Michael D. (7 November 2012). "Red Ferraris in Red China". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 7 November 2012.