Did Bo Guagua’s Beijing Ferrari ride really happen?

Posted: April 26, 2012 in media, Politics
Tags: , , , , ,

Sometime last year Bo Guagua, Bo Xilai’s son, reportedly pulled up in a red Ferrari to meet Jon Huntsman’s daughter at the US ambassador’s residence in Beijing. The car was a symbol of the wealth gap in China and the all-too-common privileges afforded to China’s young political princelings. Some have even suggested it was one of the contributing factors to Bo Xilai’s ultimate downfall.

But did it actually happen?

On April 24th The Harvard Crimson printed a statement by Bo Guagua addressing many of the rumors floating around about him. One of the points said:

I have never driven a Ferrari. I have also not been to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing since 1998 (when I obtained a previous U.S. Visa), nor have I ever been to the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in China. Even my student Visas were issued by the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, which is closer to my home of five years.

This echoes the denial his father made at a press conference last month shortly before he was sacked.

Yesterday I contacted Jon Huntsman’s press office asking about the Ferrari incident and was simply told, “Unfortunately the Governor is not commenting on this story.”

I next contacted the US Embassy in Beijing. Richard Buangan, the embassy’s press secretary, told me by phone that he couldn’t confirm anything.

It was never previously confirmed which of Huntsman’s three adult daughters Bo Guagua supposedly met, but today New York Times reported that they had contacted one of the girls. The article stated:

[Abby Huntsman Livingston] said her sister Mary Anne did share a ride with the younger Mr. Bo after dinner one night but did not notice the make of the car. Ms. Livingston added that she and a friend of Mr. Bo’s were also at the dinner that evening. “He was a very nice person,” she wrote. “I can’t confirm that a Ferrari was involved because I didn’t see it.” She did back up one thing Mr. Bo said: contrary to published accounts, he did not pick up her sister at the ambassador’s residence. “Not sure where the story originated from to be honest, nor does my family,” she wrote.

I tried contacting all three Huntsman sisters myself via their Facebook and Twitter pages, but there was no reply.

The Ferrari story was first exposed in an article by Jeremy Page in Wall Street Journal last November with no names or titles of sources given, citing only “several people familiar with [the episode].”

Anonymous sources are a fact of life with government/embassy officials who aren’t officially authorized to comment. But I emailed Jeremy Page to see if he could give some clarity about the sources he based his report on. I asked  how many sources there were, who they’re affiliated with and if he approached them independently of one-another. Page sent a reply, not answering my questions but directing me to a Dow Jones (WSJ’s parent company) PR rep in New York. She said, “We don’t publicly discuss sources but we’re confident what we reported is true.”

Jeremy Page is a very reputable reporter (whom I and several other journalists have recently said deserves a Pulitzer for his Bo coverage). There’s little reason to doubt that reliable sources did indeed give him the Ferrari information, but who are they? Why do their accounts conflict so greatly with those of the parties directly involved? The issue has serious implications, not only for the Bo family, but also in how the ruling elite and their offspring are viewed in China.

Unfortunately I have more questions to offer at this point than answers, and until one of Page’s sources decides to speak up, it will probably stay that way.

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Comments
  1. Sheila says:

    Wow. Finally–someone taking this seriously. I’ve been baffled as to how the Harvard Crimson felt justified in publishing, as fact, a “letter” attributed only to an email–and even more baffled that major news media is also swallowing it, when no one has reported physically seeing Bo Guagua in over four weeks.

  2. Jim says:

    I reserve my doubt for the Ferrari story, unless there is a picture or some evidence.

    • MAC says:

      Besides the fact that he may have blatantly lied about it, any doubt about the Ferrari reports doesn’t seem to do much to dispel the overall impression that he was living large on dirty money considering that he has been confirmed to drive a Porsche in the US. It’s not in his name, but I imagine he’s familiar with hiding paper trails.

  3. [...] Did Bo Guagua’s Beijing Ferrari ride really happen? « Sinostand Anonymous sources are a fact of life with government/embassy officials who aren’t officially authorized to comment. But I emailed Jeremy Page to see if he could give some clarity about the sources he based his report on. I asked  how many sources there were, who they’re affiliated with and if he approached them independently of one-another. Page sent a reply, not answering my questions but directing me to a Dow Jones (WSJ’s parent company) PR rep in New York. She simply said, “We don’t publicly discuss sources but we’re confident what we reported is true.”Jeremy Page is a very reputable reporter (whom I and several other journalists have recently said deserves a Pulitzer for his Bo coverage). There’s little reason to doubt that reliable sources did indeed give him the Ferrari information, but who are they? Why do their accounts conflict so greatly with the parties directly involved? The issue has serious implications, not only for the Bo family, but also in how the ruling elite and their offspring are viewed in China. [...]

  4. shaolin li says:

    From driving a Ferrari to took a ride of Ferrari, Jeremy Page’s story can be changed so dramatically without any problem, Jeremy Page really deserves a shameless “Pulitzer”.

  5. Mavis Chu says:

    How many RED FERRARIs could there be in Beijing?? Surely a good reporter can get that info from the Ferrari dealership.

  6. David Maverick says:

    Looks like Huntsman backed the wrong horse

  7. Sheila says:

    There are two pictures of a Ferrari (or possible Ferrari) crash in Beijing that night; one series of pictures shows a black car broken in half, the other picture shows a red car that struck a guard rail.

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