Bo’s Base Visit Alarmed Leadership

Embattled former local Communist Party chief Bo Xilai’s visit to a military base caused alarm among Chinese leadership.

Bo faces allegations that he misused his authority to expand control of security forces. His emphasis on his family’s militant past—his father, Bo Yibo, was a communist military commander during the Chinese Civil War in the 1930s—could threaten the peace in the Chongqing region.

China said last month that Mr. Bo—once a front-runner for a position on the Politburo Standing Committee, the nation's top decision-making body—had been dismissed from his party posts and placed under investigation for unspecified "serious disciplinary violations." The government also said his wife was in custody as a suspect in the murder of Neil Heywood, a British businessman who was close to the Bo family. …

By visiting the military base in Yunnan province, Mr. Bo appeared to be flaunting his revolutionary ancestry and courting political support from the People's Liberation Army at a time when his career was in crisis, according to Communist Party and military officials. "Bo's trip to Yunnan caught people at the highest level off guard," said one high-ranking military officer.

Mr. Bo's ties to the military and his irregular use of his police forces are now key elements of the investigation at the heart of China's worst political crisis in more than two decades, the officials said. The saga also could affect the contours of a planned leadership succession in the fall.

Chinese authorities have questioned several generals about their close ties to Bo and could delay a transition of power to keep the military under tighter control, according to the Wall Street Journal.