Bo Guagua, son of the disgraced Communist party leader Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai, has only added to the controversy surrounding his parents, the New York Times reported on Monday.
Guagua, a 24-year-old postgraduate student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, has a reputation as "an academically indifferent bon vivant with a weakness for European sports cars, first-class air travel, equestrian sports and the tango," according to the Times.
His extravagant behavior, which included driving around a red Ferrari and publicly kissing girls, earned him a citation by name in the party's official reasons for dismissing his father Xilai, who is facing charges of corruption and abuse of power, the Times reported.
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Bo Guagua has also been scrutinized for his connections to the late Neil Heywood, a British businessman living in China who was close with the family, the Harvard Crimson reported. Gu Kailai, Guagua’s mother, was arrested as a suspect in Heywood's murder earlier in April.
Heywood is thought to have served as a mentor to Guagua, helping him get admitted to the prestigious English secondary school Harrow, as well as to Oxford University, the Crimson reported, but he and his mother are reported to both have had a falling out with Heywood.
Guagua reportedly left his apartment near Harvard University escorted by private security guards late Thursday night, the Daily Telegraph reported, though his exact whereabouts or plans to return to classes are unknown, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"He did not look frightened, but he seemed anxious to go with them," a source told The Telegraph. "He had clearly been expecting it."
The Journal called Guagua "the most prominent of the younger members of a group known in China as 'princelings,'" who enjoy a wide range of privileges as a result of their revolution-era hero descendants.
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The younger Bo's future is uncertain, given the political turmoil surrounding his family, Reuters reported. It remains to be seen if Guagua, who is set to graduate from Harvard next month after final exams, will return to China or seek asylum in the United States, according to Reuters.
"Now he is an orphan," a source close to Bo's family told Reuters.
Bruce Einhorn, an asylum law expert, retired judge and professor at Pepperdine University, told the Telegraph that Guagua would have a compelling case should he seek political refuge in America.
"If you can establish there's a well-founded fear you would be persecuted in China because you would be imputed with the subversive or corrupt political views of your father, you would be just as eligible for asylum," said Einhorn.
While asylum would be legally easy, it would also be politically complex, as the US and China are rivals on the international stage, Kevin Johnson, the dean of University of California's law school, told the Telegraph.
However, one of Guagua's friends said that he wants to return to China.
"He wants to go back to help," the friend, who vacationed with Bo and his parents, told the Telegraph on condition of anonymity. "He wanted to serve China in some way. The only thing he cared about, everything, referred to his country."
“When I do well, it is naturally through my own efforts," Bo Guagua said in a interview with Youth Weekend, a state-run Chinese newspaper, the Times reported. "When I do wrong, I should bear the consequences and do not want the blame to fall on my parents. Although I am fully aware that my father is a good man, I do not wish to live under his shadow.”
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