Once a high flying member of the Politburo, Bo Xilai has been formally indicted on charges of bribery and abuse of power.
Mr Bo was arrested a year ago after he was caught up in the scandal that led to his wife being convicted of murder.
Karon Snowdon reports.
Reporter: Karon Snowdon
Speakers: Professor Kerry Brown, Director, China Studies Centre, Sydney University
SNOWDON: It was an unusually public airing of party politics and controversy. Bo Xilai, the powerful Party boss of the mega city Chongqing, former Commerce Minister and ambitious rising star crashed dramatically.
The events leading to his downfall made world wide headlines: His police chief and right hand man Wang Linjun allegedly seeking asylum in the US consulate, his wife's arrest for the murder of her business partner, British businessman Neil Heywood. Found guilty, she received a commuted death sentence, Wang was also gaoled.
Bo Xilai had made headlines himself with his tough and at times bloody anti-mafia crackdown, and his popular image as a believer in an older style communism. He made some in China's top leadership ranks nervous and divided opinion.
Professor Kerry Brown is the Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney
BROWN: The charges against him mostly relate to corruption, so no direct link with what his wife did, but, of course, the two together meant that he was easy prey in the end and could be removed.
SNOWDON: He's been held for a year. Is there any significance in the timing of the trial right now?
BROWN: This is an incredibly political case, so everything is significant about it. It comes just before a big party meeting in October and it's with a new leadership. So in a sense, you could say, it clears the air. They want him out of the picture completely and so this is the final nail in the coffin. And if this goes to plan, and he's given a heavy sentence, will in effect disappear and they'll be no more I guess worrying about him for these leaders.
SNOWDON: The charges lodged with the court in Jinan just south of Beijing were briefly reported by the official Xinhua news service.
XINHUA: Bo Xilia took the advantage of his position as a civil servant to seek gains for others, as well accepted bribes in the form of large amounts of money and property, it said.
It added, he also embezzled a large amount of public money and abused his power, seriously harming the interests of the state and people,
Kerry Brown says China's leadership wants the whole affair put to rest.
BROWN: He's guilty of threatening the central leaders by becoming popular, by being pushy, by having his own political agenda, so he's real crime is a political one and not really having alliances amongst this leadership to save him.
SNOWDON: So Kerry Brown, do you think the charges against him are real, or is this a trial about removing a threat to the leadership?
BROWN: It's the latter I think. Really the issue last year was that he was in a position, a vulnerable position, having alienated a lot of other leaders around him for them to go for him, and his wife was the stick by which they beat him. He was regarded as a maverick, as someone who was very much centred on his own political program and someone who had some fresh ideas, who may have caused the whole consensus led leadership in Beijing to be challenged. This is a system that prizes consensus and prizes everyone singing off the same hymn sheet. So that was his great problem that he wouldn't have been easy to incorporate in this collective leadership.