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Bo Xilai did 'massive harm' to China's Communist Party, say officials (+video)

Bo Xilai, the disgraced Chinese politician facing prison time in a scandal involving the murder of a British businessman, has been expelled from the Communist Party, which is undergoing a once-in-a-decade generational transition of power.

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"Party organisations at all levels must use the case of Bo Xilai's grave disciplinary violations as a negative example," it said.

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Bo's son, Bo Guagua, who was a friend of the murdered Heywood, has remained largely silent throughout the fall of his parents. He appears to be still in the United States, after finishing graduate studies at Harvard University.

Since Bo Xilai was ousted in March, he has not been seen in public and has not been allowed to answer the accusations against him. At a news conference days before his removal, Bo rejected as "filth" and "nonsense" the then unspecified allegations against him and his family.

At the same time as announcing the slate of accusations against Bo, the party set the Nov. 8 date for the congress that will unveil the country's new central leadership line-up. Eight is considered a lucky number in China.

The twin announcements will "significantly reduce perceived political and economic risks" and "help end policy paralysis," Ting Lu, China economist Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong said in an emailed research note.

"If anything, this should make markets and the general public somewhat assured that this is not really being delayed too far," Damien Ma, an analyst for the Eurasia Group who follows Chinese politics, said of the Nov. 8 congress date.

Leftist sympathisers cry foul

Bo, 63, was widely seen as pursuing a powerful spot in the new political line-up before his career unravelled after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate for more than 24 hours in February and alleged that Bo's wife Gu had poisoned Heywood to death.

After his appointment as party chief of Chongqing in 2007, Bo, a former commerce minister, turned it into a showcase of revolution-inspired "red" culture and his policies for egalitarian, state-led growth. He also won national attention with a crackdown on organised crime.

His brash self-promotion irked some leaders. But his populist ways and crime clean-up were welcomed by many of Chongqing's 30 million residents, as well as others who hoped that Bo could take his leftist-shaded policies nationwide.

His likely trial could still stir that ideological contention. China's party-run courts rarely find in favour of defendants, especially in politically-sensitive cases.

After state television announced the charges against Bo, some leftist sympathisers insisted that he was the innocent victim of a political plot.

"I just still don't believe that Bo has so many problems with corruption," Han Deqiang, a leftist Beijing academic who has supported Bo, told Reuters. "We have to wait and see what else comes out. But I don't think we've been given the truth."

In March, Bo was sacked as Chongqing party boss, and in April he was suspended from the party's Politburo, a powerful decision-making council with two dozen active members.

The latest party statement also said Bo "had or maintained improper sexual relations with multiple women". It added that the investigation discovered clues of other, unspecified crimes.

"We'll have to wait and see what charges are accepted by the prosecutors in any indictment," said Li Zhuang, a Beijing lawyer who was jailed by Bo after raising allegations that Chongqing's anti-crime gang policies involved torture and other unchecked abuses. "The charges could change."

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