Bo Xilai Wins Internet’s Heart In China’s First Liveblogged Trial

Who knew that a disgraced politician whose wife murdered a businessman could still be the most beloved official in China? Last night, Bo’s trial opened in what is billed as China’s most public official scandal of the decade.

A photo of Bo Xilai’s trial, live-Tweeted (or Weibo’d) by Jinan Intermediate People’s Court .

Bo Xilai’s story has all the elements of a mystery/thriller movie: once a maverick frontrunner of the Politburo, he is now accused of corruption, bribery, and covering up his wife’s murder of a British businessman. While he was the mayor of Chongqing City, his police chief sought U.S. asylum because he felt Bo was threatening his life for investigating his wife’s crimes. Bo was stripped of his Party membership, then detained.

Yet, he may still be one of the most popular politicians in China.

The opening of the trial on Wednesday marked the first time the public has seen Bo in 18 months — and the court chose an unusually public medium to broadcast such a landmark trial: Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Otherwise, only 19 journalists from state-owned media were allowed in the courtroom to cover the event.

Chinese netizens were amused to see Phoenix News’ anchor reading Jinan City Court’s updates from Weibo.

4. The court put selections of testimony out on Weibo.

Journalists crowding outside of the Jinan courtroom, snapping photos of the court’s Weibo microblog feed for television. No foreign journalists were allowed in the courtroom.

7. #BoXilaiTrial was the biggest topic on Weibo. Many were wowed by his eloquence.

8. While much of China’s state media slammed Bo Xilai for being a liar and “a good actor,” Weibo netizens defended him.

9. Supporters of the disgraced politician came out in droves — a rare sight on a website usually reserved for scathing exposés of official misconduct.

12. Others were more skeptical.

13. Chinese-fluent readers can follow the Jinan Court’s continued liveblogging of the trial tonight.

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