Li Xueming, vice-chairman and executive director of China Everbright International Ltd., a state-owned enterprise that focuses on alternative energy and environmental protection, has resigned from his executive positions and from the company's board.
That would simply be standard business news, if it weren't for a surprising political twist. Observers outside China believe tha 'Li Xueming' is simply an alias for 'Bo Xiyong', the older brother of Bo Xilai. That is, of course, the powerful Communist party secretary of the city of Chongqing who was dismissed in mid-March and then purged from high-level party posts in early April.
Bo Xilai was considered a popular political figure in China, and was previously seen by some Western analysts as a strong candidate to serve on the Politburo Standing Committee, the council of 9 most powerful leaders in China. The scandal surrounding his dismissal has drawn worldwide attention, and calls into doubt the stability and solidarity of the party's top leadership.
In an open letter, the China Everbright Board of Directions stated on Wednesday:
The Board has been advised by Mr. Li that he, for the best interest of the Company and its shareholders as a whole, has decided to resign from the Board and its Executive Committee in order to minimize any possible adverse impact on the Company of certain reports recently published by the media on his family background.
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Everbright describes itself as focusing its core business on green environmental protection and alternative energy, including solar, water-to-energy, biomass, wind, methane, waste treatment, research and development, and environmental engineering.
Visitors to the site are greeted by calligraphy gifted from past Chinese president Jiang Zemin, extolling the virtue to be ever bright, discover and innovate.
Everbright is one the so-called red chips, China's top-performing companies.
Everbright International's 2011 revenue was nearly 3.7 billion Hong Kong Dollars (HKD), and net income (profit) was 845.2 million HKD ($470 million and $109 million respectively). Since November 2011, its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange have risen from 2.2 HKD to 3.3 HKD as of Wednesday's closing.
Bo originally joined Everbright back in 1998, and had previously held high-ranking positions in Chinese aerospace companies.
As the Bo scandal continues to make headlines around the world, Bo Xilai's son Bo Guagua sent a letter on Tuesday to the student paper at Harvard, where he studies, in order to dispel rumors about his lavish lifestyle and affirm his academic credentials.
On Thursday, The New York Times reported that Hu Jintao may have been wiretapped by local officials in Chongqing, something that, according to Chinese sources cited by the newspaper, may have brought about his fall even more than his questionable business dealings.
Other Western media sites have incorrectly translated Bo Xiyong's assumed name as 'Li Xiaming'.