In a storyline that could have been taken straight out of a television crime drama, Wang Lijun--missing former chief of police and current deputy mayor of Chongqing, a sprawling, gritty metropolis in China's interior--is presumably being held in Beijing, following a defection attempt at the U.S. Consulate.

As the Machiavellian saga continues to unfold, the Chinese dissident Web site Boxun has reported that Wang uncovered a plot by his former boss, Bo Xilai, and a senior government official, Zhou Yongkang, to seize power from Xi Jinping, heir-apparent to the reins of Communist Party leadership.

They [Bo and Zhou] prepared a complete plan to attack Xi, wrote Boxun, citing top-level sources within the party apparatus. This plan was going to take place after the Chinese New Year, and would have released a variety of accusations and criticisms about Xi through overseas media. This would undermine Xi's power and help Bo to become the Secretary of the Political and Legislative Committee.

From there, Boxun alleges that Bo would have been able to gain control of the public security forces and coerce Xi to hand over power, though it is not clear to whom.

Bo is the current party boss in Chongqing, and had previously teamed up with Wang, then police chief, in 2009 to eradicate the stranglehold of the Triads crime syndicate on the city, and root out pervasive corruption amongst local party officials in the process.

Zhou is China's chief security official and currently one of the nine members on the elite Politburo Standing Committee--the highest organ of party leadership, chaired by President Hu Jintao.

Wang's intelligence supports the claims of U.S. officials who believe a faction of hardline nationalists within the party are seeking power, wrote Bill Gertz in the Washington Free Beacon. They oppose the more moderate, but still Communist, faction headed by Hu Jintao that currently holds power in the Politburo, which runs China's government.

At the moment, the Chinese government is trying to keep a lid on Wang's defection attempt and the rumors surrounding his plausible discovery of a plot to overthrow the government. State media have reported that authorities are investigating the incident, but little else about Wang's whereabouts.