China: Leaders who rose and fell

Bo Xilai is not the first high-profile politician to fall out of favour with China's Communist Party. The BBC's Michael Bristow looks at three others who suffered a similar fate.

Zhao Ziyang

File photo: Zhao Ziyang Zhao Ziyang was the Communist Party's general secretary in 1989

Zhao Ziyang is the most important Chinese politician to lose his job - and his freedom - in the last 20 odd years.

His success in charge of Sichuan province in the 1970s brought him to the attention of Deng Xiaoping, then China's paramount leader.

Mr Deng promoted him to national office, where he helped craft China's initial economic reforms and opening up to the outside world.

Mr Zhao was the Communist Party's general secretary when protests broke out in Beijing and other cities in 1989.

His reluctance to condemn the demonstrators led to him being removed from office by Mr Deng and the other elderly revolutionary leaders who still ran China.

He was never charged with any offence, but was put under house arrest, where he stayed until he died in 2005.

He was confined to his Beijing home, with the authorities occasionally letting him out to play golf.

But he did manage put his thoughts on tape. These were smuggled out of China and formed the basis of a book.

In it, the former head of the Communist Party praised Western-style democracy and said the killings in 1989 had been a "tragedy".

Chen Xitong

File photo: Chen Xitong Chen Xitong, who was once mayor of Beijing, was given a 16-year jail term in 1998

Corruption - and a hint of politics - led to the downfall of Chen Xitong, the former mayor of Beijing.

Mr Chen was sent to prison for 16 years in 1998 after being tipped for even higher office.

He was accused of accepting bribes in exchange for giving his approval for construction projects in the Chinese capital.

A Communist Party investigation concluded that he had "squandered a large amount of public funds to support a corrupt and decadent life".

Mr Chen's conviction came after a crackdown on corruption spearheaded by the then president, Jiang Zemin.

His conviction ended speculation at the time that China's top leaders would not dare to prosecute one of their own.

But politics might also have also played a part in the fate of Mr Chen, who was also a member of the party's politburo.

The ex-Beijing mayor was once seen as a possible top leader in China. That put him in direct competition with Mr Jiang, who is from Shanghai.

Some think Mr Chen's prosecution had as much to do with the rivalry between the cliques from these two cities as with any wrongdoing.

Chen Liangyu

File photo: Chen Liangyu Chen Liangyu was Communist Party secretary in Shanghai when he was fired for corruption

Chen Liangyu was first sacked and then sent to prison for 18 years for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars from the government's pension fund in Shanghai, where he was the Communist Party secretary.

As a member of the party's politburo, he was the highest-ranking politician to fall from grace in a decade.

While in office, Mr Chen oversaw an ambitious project to increase Shanghai's international profile. He was in charge when the city won the right to host Expo 2010 and built the Formula One racetrack.

He was fired in 2006 and convicted after a trial two years later of misusing the pension fund for city workers.

Instead of investing it safely, Mr Chen was bribed to loan it to friends and associates who needed money for their own ventures. The scandal ensnared other officials and businessmen.

Mr Chen's downfall seemed to involve politics as well as corruption. He was politically aligned to China's former president, Jiang Zemin. The fall of the Shanghai boss was seen as an attempt to attack Mr Jiang's clique at the top of the party.

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