Supporters of jailed Chinese politician Bo Xilai have established a new political party, a founder says, in a rare challenge to the ruling Communist Party.
Scholar Wang Zheng said the party was set up on Wednesday, just days before a key Communist Party meeting, to support the former high-ranking official who was handed a life sentence for corruption in September.
Wang said the Zhi Xian Party, which means “supreme constitution”, has named Bo as its life-long chairman, though it was unclear if he had actually agreed to have ties with the group.
Attempts by the party to contact Bo through one of his lawyers failed.
Chinese authorities view organisations set up without express authorisation as illegal and have cracked down on similar groups in the past.
But Wang, an associate professor at the Beijing Institute of Economics and Management said: “I don’t worry about being arrested.
“At first, my school tried to stop me from doing this, but I ignored them.”
Bo, the former Communist Party chief of the city of Chongqing and a member of the elite politburo, lost an appeal to overturn his convictions for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power last month.
His downfall followed his wife’s murder of a British businessman, details of which were allegedly leaked when Chongqing’s police chief fled to the safety of a US diplomatic mission in China.
Bo won admirers among China’s so-called “New Left” for revival of “red” culture, sending officials to work in the countryside and pushing workers to sing revolutionary songs, hearkening back to the country’s rule under leader Mao Zedong.
Wang said Bo’s trial was not carried out according to the law.
She declined to give the number of members and their affiliations, but said the new party hoped to hold a “national meeting” in half a year.
Several supposed members of the party, according to a list circulating on the internet, claimed not to belong or could not be reached.
“The tenet of our party is to protect the authority of the constitution,” Wang said.
China’s constitution guarantees freedom of speech and assembly but legal scholars say the document is considered subordinate to the Communist Party.
In April, authorities detained several members of a loose grouping of activists calling for reforms to China’s legal system, who took the name “new citizens movement”, according to US-based rights group Human Rights Watch.