By M. S. Shah Jahan
It was 14 November 2011. Neil Heywood, a Beijing resident, arrived in fog-shrouded Chongqing and checked into Sheraton Hotel, as he was summoned on short notice for a meeting in Chongqing with representatives of the family of Bo Xilai, the local Communist Party chief.
He tried to telephone his usual contacts in Chongqing but couldn’t get through to any of them. Heywood was left waiting alone in his hotel room for instructions. He became nervous and sensed that something was wrong. He called an English friend and told him, “I’m in trouble.”
During the last couple of months of his life, Heywood grew increasingly nervous, warning some friends and business contacts not to discuss sensitive matters over email or telephone. He began to smoke more, lost much of his hair and put on weight. He told friends he was planning to leave China next year as he was under “intolerable pressure” from the Bo family.
What happened in Chongqing afterwards remains a mystery…
Heywood’s body was found in one of the ten private villas of secluded Nanshan Lijing Resort Hotel, eight miles outside the metropolis, atop a forested mountain. Despite its pristine views, the hotel brought bad luck to two of its important guests.
Heywood spent his last days in Chongqing’s Nan’an district, an area politically loyal to Bo, and stayed in two hotels: Sheraton and the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel. The staff at both hotels said they knew nothing of a British man dying there. The hotel has a six-floor main building, ten villas in three rows and crucially several CCTV cameras which might have captured Heywood’s final moments.