UK Prime minister David Cameron is pushing China for a thorough, impartial investigation of the death of British expatriate, Neil Heywood, which is at the center of a political scandal in China involving disgraced party boss Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai.
The office of the prime minister stated on Tuesday that Cameron will raise the case of Neil Heywood, welcoming the launch of the Chinese investigation and emphasizing that we are keen to address concerns about the suspicious circumstances of his tragic death.
Cameron is meeting Li Changchun, who sits on China's politburo standing committee, a 9-member group of the country's top leaders, at 10 Downing Street to discuss a series of issues including diplomatic concerns regarding Iran and Syria.
In regards to pressure placed on China's government, Cameron's spokesperson stressed that we want to see the conclusion of an investigation that observes due process.
Heywood was found dead in his hotel room last November. Originally, Chinese media reported the death was due to alcohol poisoning .
However, since February, Heywood's death has been a central component of a scandal involving one of the country's most recognizable, and once one of its most influential, political figures, Bo Xilai.
Bo had been the party head of the 33 million-strong Chongqing municipal zone, one of the China's most vibrant economic areas, as well as a member of the Communist Party's central committee and politburo. The 25-member politburo is not to be confused with the more exclusive politburo standing committee, but it remains one of the top organs of power in China.
China's government says that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, is now a major suspect in Heywood's murder. Critical information on the Heywood death was revealed to Chinese authorities by Wang Lijun, an official who was once Bo's close political supporter.
Heywood,a businessman who had been a friend of Bo and Gu's and had helped their son Bo Guagua enter an exclusive British private school, had reportedly had disagreements with the couple over business matters.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that anonymous sources in China told them that Bo originally supported the police investigation of his wife's involvement in Heywood's death, before reversing his decision.
The sources claim that Wang, originally the chief of police of Chongqing and the city's deputy mayor, approached Bo with evidence of Gu's involvement around January 18. They assert that Bo originally allowed the investigation before later opposing it. Wang was later demoted from his post as police chief, around February 2.
The sources allege that Bo ultimately disciplined Wang and attempted to conceal the inquiry in order to protect his family and career.
The death of a British national in China has not captured so much attention since the execution of businessman Akmal Shaikh in late 2009. In the previous case, the British government condemned China's decision to charge Shaikh for drug trafficking, making 27 requests to stay his execution, and strongly criticized the judicial process in China.