"They see this as an opportunity to present China as a country where rule of law is developing and where the judicial system is becoming more mature," said political commentator and columnist Frank Ching. "But at the same time, they want to have some control."
'A good legal mind'
Based on the information that the court has divulged, Bo has come across as a combative defendant, denying allegations against him and attacking the credibility of prosecution witnesses.
"I think he has performed very well in court," Ching said. "He seems to have a good legal mind and has been able to argue his own case very well."
But despite his assertive performance, many observers still expect him to be convicted in a legal system where the Communist Party controls police, prosecution and courts.
Bo appeared to acknowledge his likely fate during his final statement Monday.
"There are times when I felt weak, because I know I'm doomed and there's no escape for me," he said. "Ending up in prison, I have mixed feelings toward the rest of my life."
The rise of a princeling
Bo is a princeling, a term that refers to the children of revolutionary veterans who boast of political connections and influence. His late father, Bo Yibo, was a revolutionary contemporary of Chairman Mao Zedong and the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.
Over the past three decades, Bo rose to power as a city mayor, provincial governor, minister of commerce and member of the Politburo, the powerful policy-making body of the Communist Party.
With the help of Wang, he was credited with a spectacular, albeit brutal, crackdown on organized crime during his time as the top party official of Chongqing.
Bo's populist policies drew admirers and detractors, but he ultimately ran afoul of party power brokers.
Long underwear from the 1960s
His high profile and connections among the nation's ruling elite have made his case an extremely delicate matter for Chinese authorities.
The court hearings have included plentiful details about the jet-set lifestyle led by Bo's wife and youngest son, which prosecutors allege was funded by rich businessmen to secure influence from Bo.
The favors mentioned include a villa in the South of France, and trips to destinations around the globe for the son, Bo Guagua, who is now living in the United States.
Bo Xilai has denied he knew details about where the money was coming from. And on Monday, he sought to play up his Spartan credentials.
"I have no interest in clothing," he said. "My thermal long underpants were bought by my mother in the 1960s."
Nonetheless, the portrait that has emerged of Bo, his family and their former position near the top of the Chinese system has proved revealing.
"Since the founding of the Communist Party and the People's Republic, this has been the only time that connections among the party, government, judiciary, politicians' private lives, as well as power and interests, are explained in such a clear, public and entertaining way," the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei wrote on his Twitter account.