Bo Guagua Enrolls at Columbia Law School

Bo Guagua — the notorious party-animal son of disgraced Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo Xilai — is on track to add another prestigious educational credential to his resume, according to a recent report by the US-based Chinese-language newspaper DW News.

The name Bo Guagua has appeared on this year’s student directory for Columbia Law School. The name (which means “melon-melon”) is considered unusual enough that, taken in conjunction with the educational and financial resources associated with enrollment at one of the top half-dozen most expensive and prestigious law schools in the US, it can be assumed to be that of the 25-year-old son of Bo Xilai.

Bo Guagua has the credentials for admission to Columbia Law School, having graduated last year from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He received his undergraduate education at Oxford. He is also thought to have the means to afford Columbia’s $60,000 annual tuition and the additional $20,000 suggested for living expenses.

Bo Xilai’s official salary would not have been sufficient to allow him to send his son to a series of exclusive schools, beginning with London’s Harrow School. He is currently awaiting trial on charges of abuses of power and bribery — activities thought to have earned him tens of millions of dollars, and even upwards of over a billion dollars. His trial is expected to begin later this summer, about sixteen months after he was stripped of his post and confined to house arrest.

Most of Bo’s loot is suspected to have been transferred overseas, presumably with the help of Neil Heywood, the British business consultant whose 2011 murder has been pinned on Guagua’s mother and Bo’s wife Gu Kailai. Gu was sentenced to death but the sentence was suspended and is expected to be commuted to a life sentence.

Many Chinese suspect that Bo Guagua has access to his family’s ill-gotten fortune. A legal education would certainly be useful in his efforts at protecting any such wealth. Some commentators suspect that the central government is now finally able to hold Bo Xilai’s trial because he has struck a deal with prosecutors to sign a confession of his crimes in exchange for a promise not to go after at least some of the illicit gains from his corruption.

“If the old man doesn’t accept his crimes, they’ll go after his son,” wrote Hu Ping, a New York-based exile and political commentator, in the Los Angeles Times.

Some months before his parents were arrested and charged with crimes Bo Guagua had come under the media spotlight for his extravagantly hedonistic and colorful lifestyle which included wild parties with foreign women, driving a Ferrari and escorting high-profile figures. One happened to be the daughter of former US Ambassador to Beijing Jon Huntsman.