Mystery African meat piques appetites during China trial

JINAN, China Sat Aug 24, 2013 2:12am EDT

Policemen guard the entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court during the third day of the trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai in Jinan, Shandong province August 24, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Policemen guard the entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court during the third day of the trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai in Jinan, Shandong province August 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

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JINAN, China (Reuters) - Testimony in the trial of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai has produced salacious details about the opulent and supposedly corrupt lifestyle of the family of the once high-flying Communist Party aristocrat.

But perhaps no tidbit has attracted as much attention as the piece of exotic meat Bo's son, Guagua, brought back from a visit to Africa in 2011.

The trip was paid for by entrepreneur Xu Ming, once close to the Bo family and now detained, accused of paying bribes to Bo.

The mystery meat was a given by Guagua to his father, according to written testimony at the trial from his wife, Gu Kailai, a transcript of which was published by the court.

Gu said she did not remember what animal it came from, only that it was from a rare species.

The story of the meat is one of a slew of revelations to come out of Bo's trial which began on Thursday. He faces charges of corruption, taking bribes and abuse of power.

The court also heard allegations that Xu hired private jets for Guagua, paid for him to stay in posh hotels and even bought the family a luxury villa in southern France.

The testimony offers a glimpse into the lifestyles of China's elite politicians, and reinforces a campaign by President Xi Jinping against corruption and opulence.

Bo's wife, Gu, was imprisoned last year after being found guilty of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Their son, Guagua, is living in the United States, where he is preparing to start law studies at New York's Columbia University. He has yet to comment on the trial.

In her testimony, Gu told of a dispute between father and son over the meat.

"Guagua said it could be eaten raw, but Bo Xilai said it needed to be cooked. That made Guagua mad, and he said it was very expensive and that preparing it like that would spoil it," Gu said.

In the end, the elder Bo prevailed and they steamed the meat. The taste "wasn't bad", according to Gu. "We ate this meat for a whole month," she added.

Bo told the court he knew nothing of the Africa trip. He did not mention the meat.

Online, users of China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo puzzled over the meat. "What kind of meat can you keep for a month, and where can I get some?" one microblog user asked.

On Taobao, China's most popular online shopping site, a user posted what appeared to be a joke advertisement offering meat "the same as Guagua's, eat it for a month".

"Don't hurt father's feelings by worrying about whether to eat it raw or cooked; eat it any way you like," the advertisement read.

Hong Kong's Phoenix Television carried a guide on its mainland China microblog to what kinds of meat could last a month, including legs of Parma ham. Many people said Bo's meat was probably a cured meat from South Africa known as biltong.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Comments (4)
tatman wrote:
more proof that the chinese are behind the massive surge in endangered wildlife body parts trade in Africa. since the chinese have begun paying african nations millions to gain access to their natural resources, and have begun shipping their people in by the thousands as workers to build roads and bridges, the slaughter of elephants and rhino have surged to such horrific proportions that the deaths now outnumber their births, and both species are on a rapid spiral to extinction. last year alone, an estimated 50,000 elephants were slaughtered for their tusks, with china as the main buyer of their ivory. here we see admittedly the smuggling of endangered species meat to Bo — a red flag highlighting the immensely negative impact the chinese and their wealth have had upon the native wildlife in africa. this is so sad, for this plate of food spelled another notch toward extinction for a rare and endangered animal species struggling to survive.

and no one stops to think of where the money is going that was spent for this rare animal meat, or the tons of ivory gleaned from the slaughters: the african rebels, who are committing crimes against humanity and daily atrocities upon the african people (men, women and children).

Aug 24, 2013 10:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
marisa70394 wrote:
It seems to me that Chinese people have no sense about the environment and protecting wildlife. To them, the world is there to be plundered. I have met many Chinese people, and I have never met a single one who cares about the future of the Earth. It seems to be all about “who can make the most money and eat the most delicious and exotic foods”. If China ever rules the world, it will indeed be a grim place to be.

Aug 24, 2013 10:11pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
As a person of Chinese background growing up in Borneo, I can easily understand the “exoticism” that Chinese feel toward things “non-Chinese” and things that from a distant land.

The first time I tasted beef jerky in the U.S. as a foreign student, I immediately wrote home and told my family about this interesting piece of dried meat with a rubbery texture.

Years later, my mother had a chance to visit me. She was enchanted by the taste of tortilla chips and potato chips that she actually hand carried three bags of chips home so my other siblings had an opportunity to try something exotically “American”.

Aug 25, 2013 1:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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