A former police chief of a major Chinese city was reportedly seeking asylum in the U.S. after fighting with one of China's most powerful politicians.
Wang Lijun was known as a vigilant police officer in Chongqing city, fighting to keep crime off the streets by tackling gangs. His work even inspired a drama on Chinese state television called Iron-Blooded Police Spirits. Reports originally circulated that China's top cop had taken a leave of absence because of the intense amount of stress he was under, after he had disappeared from a stand-off, Feb. 7, involving security officers surrounding a U.S. consulate in Chengdu, reported ABC News.
Wang was a close ally of the city's top Communist leader, Bo Xilai. Bo is one of China's top contenders for party leadership this fall as the country's central government is expected to shuffle its leaders.
However, Wang was removed from his position and reassigned to an education and environmental unit, according to ABC News. The move made some Chinese citizens speculate that Wang was under investigation by some authorities or he had fallen out of favor with his ally, Bo. It was also speculated that Wang had attempted to seek help from the American consulate during the tense standoff.
We can't comment on what happened in Chengdu (Tuesday) night, Richard Buangan, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing told ABC News. Buangan told Reuters there was no threat to the (Chengdu) consulate yesterday and the U.S. government did not request increased security around the compound.
However, they did not definitively say if Wang was involved. The Chinese government also tried to quell rumors that Wang was involved in the standoff.
It is understood that Deputy Mayor Wang Lijun, who has suffered overwork and immense mental stress for a long time, is seriously indisposed physically. He is currently undergoing a vacation-style therapy, the Chongqing information office said, according to Reuters.
Analysts claim these series of events will have a major impact on Bo's political future in the Chinese government, especially since he had supported Wang's anti-crime policies so heavily.
This will be a big blow to Bo Xilai, because Wang was instrumental in his anti-organized crime campaign, and that was instrumental in building Bo's appeal in public opinion and even among officials, said Chen Ziming, an independent scholar who studies party politics, reported Reuters.
Wang has still not been located by any media outlet.