The former Communist Party chief of a northern Chinese city turned himself in to anti-corruption investigators on Dec. 22 after returning from the United States, where he had fled to over two years ago, according to state news media.
Wang Guoqiang, Party Secretary of Fengcheng City of Liaoning Province, escaped to the U.S. with over 200 million yuan ($32 million) in stolen money and other assets in April 2012.
He flew back to Beijing on Monday and submitted a letter of surrender to the agents awaiting him at the Beijing airport; he is now understood to be in the hands of anti-corruption investigators.
The state-run China Central Television aired the scene of Wang getting off the airplane, dressed in all black with a cap and backpack, accompanied by two police officers. He then handed the letter to staff from the Central Discipline and Inspection Commission, indicating that he would submit to investigators.
Wang told CCTV that he “has always been in a state of extreme fear and helplessness” while in the United States.
Government investigation found that Wang and his wife fled to the United States on April 24, 2012, state media said. On April 28, 2012, the Liaoning provincial Discipline and Inspection Commission launched an investigation into his activities, which included taking bribes and leaving the country without authorization. He had also invested in profit-making ventures, against the law.
But it’s unclear precisely why Wang chose to surrender. State media says it was the “impulsion from China’s formidable policy” and “cowering before the might of the law” that led to the decision. Ever suspicious, however, Chinese internet users suggested that he had been given a sweetheart deal.
Incidentally, taking money was not the only activity that Wang dirtied his hands in. Wang was an active implementer of the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group, leading several actions against the group in the city of Fengcheng. Liaoning, where Wang was based, has always been a particularly severe region for the persecution.
During Wang’s time in Fengcheng a large number of Falun Gong practitioners were abducted, illegally detained, sentenced to prison and put in labor camps, according to the overseas Falun Gong website Minghui. Wang also gave speeches attacking the practice and vowing to harshly target Falun Gong practitioners, at a government work conference in 2009.