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Resource ID: #25713
Subject: Foreign Affairs
Source: Wall Street Journal (New York)
Affiliation: 
Date: 03-06/2012; 09-11/2012

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Description

During his years in China, British businessman Neil Heywood cut a rather eccentric figure, cruising around Beijing in a silver Jaguar with “007” license plates and boasting implausibly about his connections to senior Communist Party officials. When he was found dead in a second-rate provincial hotel room in November 2011—of “excessive alcohol consumption,” according to local authorities—he was immediately cremated and seemingly just as quickly forgotten. Forgotten, that is, until Wall Street Journal reporter Jeremy Page began digging into the case. Using his wide network of local and foreign contacts, the Beijing correspondent discovered that this was much more than a sad case of expat overindulgence. It turned out that Mr. Heywood was in fact very close to the wife of Bo Xilai, a Communist Party rising star—and that he had told friends he feared she might do him harm. The investigation lifted the lid on the extravagant, and often lawless, private lives of the country's elite—a forbidden topic for Chinese media, and one rarely touched on by the foreign press. Mr. Page's reports, devoured by China's vast population of Internet users, sparked massive public debate and may even have altered the course of China's once-a-decade leadership transition.

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