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The new face of China?

In March 2012 China's most flamboyant politician was fired. Now his wife has been charged with murder. Meet Bo Xilai before the scandal.

By Dan Levin   December 2011

Bo Xilai is mobbed by the media in Beijing, 2010. His personal brand combines Clint Eastwood’s style of justice with George Clooney’s swagger

The email, from a former high-ranking European diplomat to China, was curt: “We won’t be able to talk by phone,” he wrote.

In other words, because I was in Beijing, he feared that our conversation would be monitored, placing him at risk. Assurances that I would use a secure line were for naught. I never heard from him again.

That’s how things go when you research—or attempt to research—a Chinese leader. In a country where even the…

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