Bo Junior has become a symbol of the Chinese princelings (or, in his case, grand-princeling) the offspring of top cadres who live lavishly, often overseas. Photos of him drinking, partying and cavorting with pretty foreign things at Oxford and Harvard have drawn the ire of Chinese netizens -- most of whom, I'm sure, are stuck in crappy dorm rooms, cramming for exams, and dreaming of drinking, partying and cavorting with pretty foreign things at a Ivy League school.
Adolescent jealousy aside, the whole mess has stuck an angry chord with people fed up with corruption, a widening income gap, and the behavior of "little emperors."
Guagua wasn't that big a part of the story until he penned a statement defending himself in The Crimson, the Harvard student newspaper. Suddenly, he put himself and his lifestyle in the spotlight.
(Note: While I understand journalists jumping on a hook like this -- my own employer included -- and while I understand that the letter was sourced to an email sent to The Crimson, I wish articles cast just a bit more doubt that it might not be authentic.
Now, maybe The Crimson knows something we don't. Maybe they had a way of confirming, officially through the university, that it was definitely him. And the rumor that it came just from Gmail is not true. But still...)
The statement mostly deflects rumors about his lifestyle and academic performance. But honestly, I don't care whether he drove a Ferrari or a Porsche, or how good his grades were, or how wonderfully involved he was in extracurriculars.
What struck me was what he didn't say -- which is a single word for anyone else.
Imagine this. Your mentor is dead. Your father lost his job and was shamed in front of the world. Your mother is accused of murder.
Even if you don't want to address politics, wouldn't you spare a few kind comments for those around you? A condolence for Neil Heywood's grieving family?
Even if you don't want to address the investigation on your parents, wouldn't you at least ask for a fair and open trial? Ask about their well-being?
A Chinese friend offered that maybe Guagua was advised to write a statement not mentioning his parents. Maybe. But if he sought legal counsel in the U.S., I can't imagine they would tell him to stick his neck out with a rather gossipy statement that would draw fire in the form of 1,300 (and counting) mostly negative comments. (If anyone has benefitted from this, it's that student paper).
There are many more serious accusations being thrown around, but I have a minor one. If this letter is real, then Guagua, now 24, is rather self-involved -- as if the main problem is whether someone doubted his A-levels.