A rising star in Chinese politics was ousted from his powerful perch as party chief in the huge city of Chongqing today, following a strange scandal that saw Chongqing's police chief seek US asylum. Bo Xilai is a charismatic figure who, unlike most Chinese politicians, actually courts the media. He earned popular acclaim—and also some inter-party controversy—for his crusades against the mafia and his promotion of Maoist ideology, and was considered on the fast track for the country's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, the AP reports.
The ouster came after Wen Jiabao took the rare step of publicly rebuking Bo in his last press conference as premier, criticizing Bo both for the scandal and his push for communist ideals, the Wall Street Journal reports. It's still murky what happened when police chief Wang Lijun sought US protection, but rumors have swirled that he had evidence of corruption against Bo and was fleeing Chongping police. "This is an earthquake before the 18th Party Congress," one Chinese scholar tells the Washington Post. (Read more Bo Xilai stories.)