A thorough investigation into sacked leader Bo Xilai's indiscipline and his wealthy wife's involvement in the murder of a Briton could be prove to be the benchmark to test the "purity" of Communist Party of China (CPC) officials, a new editorial has indicated.
The new editorial comes as chances are growing that Bo could face criminal charges for blocking police investigation into the murder of British national Neil Heywood.
Agency reports quoted law expert Prof Wang Chengwang, speaking on state television saying that as an influential party leader Bo would first be probed by a disciplinary commission before police and judicial authorities take over
The Xinhua editorial came a day after Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron raised the case with a visiting Chinese official. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai and an aide, both charged with homicide, have been transferred to judicial authorities.
"China is in the midst of a social transitional process and it is a crucial test for the CPC to ensure the purity of the Party's officials," the editorial said.
It is the latest and possibly the strongest statement yet, in the concerted effort by the CPC to send a signal to the people and the outside world that it is handling the situation with all authority; since Bo's sacking last week, the tightly-controlled media has been the vehicle for the government to release statements, saying it was just an individual case. Selected media leaks have also attempted to prove Bo's and his family's involvement in the case.
But the new opinion piece in a government mouthpiece also indicates that the leadership is shaken by the worst scandal involving murder and possibly lots of money to hit the CPC in a long time.
"Renewed attention has been drawn to the anti-corruption drive of the Communist Party of China (CPC) amid an ongoing investigation of Bo Xilai over serious discipline violations, as well as the transfer of his wife to judicial authorities over suspicions of homicide," the Party said.
"Based on the facts made public so far, the Wang Lijun (the Chongqing police chief removed by Bo after he allegedly wanted to investigate his wife's involvement in the murder) incident is a serious political event that has created an adverse influence both at home and abroad, the death of Neil Heywood is a serious criminal case involving the kin and aides of a Party and state leader, and Bo has seriously violated Party discipline," it said.