Video: Orville Schell Explains Why 'Very Threatening' Bo Xilai Received Life Sentence

Video: Orville Schell on PBS Newshour (3 min., 41 sec.)

Disgraced Chinese official Bo Xilai was sentenced to life in prison this weekend after being convicted of embezzlement, receiving bribes worth more than three million dollars and other abuses of power. The sentence completed the fall from grace of a former mayor, provincial governor and Communist Party chief who at one time was expected to be named a member of China's top leadership body, the Politburo Standing Committee.

Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of Asia Society's Center on U.S.-China Relations, appeared on PBS Newshour yesterday to discuss the sentence with anchor Hari Sreenivasan.

Asked to comment on the significance of Bo's sentencing, Schell explains that the case was "sublimely embarrassing" for China's ruling elite, both because it exposed the inner workings, or "deep recesses behind the veil of high party politics" and because Bo's father, Bo Yibo, was one of the revered "eight elders" who helped Deng Xiaoping steer China toward a market economy in the decades immediately following Mao's death.

Because he wasn't convicted of any violent crimes, Bo is officially eligible for parole in 13 years. Some sources are reporting he could be paroled in 10 years or even sooner, depending on how China's political winds shift.

As Schell tells Newshour, "with the Chinese Communist party largely in control, I think he’s not going to have much of a rehabilitation. But the world works in mysterious ways, and China has frequently undergone these major tectonic changes, as after Mao. So it's very hard to know."

Meanwhile, for those who can't get enough of infighting and scandal involving top Chinese Communist officials, ChinaFile has published an interactive timeline of fallen Chinese Communist Party officials during the years 1976 to 2013.