Bo Xilai's son on student list of US varsity

NEW YORK - An intriguing name has surfaced on the online student directory of Columbia University.

Mr Bo Guagua (above), 25, the son of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, is listed as a student in the New York university's school of law.

A foreign correspondent for Chinese magazine Caixin, Mr Vincent Ni, posted a screenshot of the Columbia University student directory on Twitter yesterday.

Columbia University is ranked the fourth-best law school in the United States by the US News & World Report, which also listed its tuition fees as US$55,488 (S$70,100) per year on its website.

Bo Xilai, 64, China's highest-profile leader to face trial in decades, has been indicted for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power in a scandal that saw his police chief flee to a US consulate and his wife convicted of murdering a British businessman.

He could appear in a court in the eastern city of Jinan, in Shandong province, within weeks.

With his mother languishing in jail, and father soon to face the same fate, analysts agree that Mr Bo Guagua's best bet is to remain abroad.

Enrolling at Columbia would allow him to extend his student visa for the duration of his studies.

This is a more attractive alternative to applying for asylum in the US, which would make it impossible for him to return to China.

Mr Bo Guagua had studied at Oxford and completed a master's at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government last year.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Bo Xilai's trial may be proceeding after he agreed to strike a deal with the Chinese government. While the details of such a deal would not be privy to the public, Mr Hu Ping, an exiled political commentator based in New York, said that he believed Bo Xilai may have struck a deal that would shield his son from scrutiny.

"If the old man doesn't accept his crimes, they'll go after his son," Mr Hu wrote in the Human Rights In China Biweekly this month, The LA Times reported.

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