Chinese Official Who Knew Too Much Disappeared in Beijing

March 8, 2012 Updated: August 14, 2015

In the latest developments in a monthlong political crisis that is laying bare the factional nature of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule, a Chinese official in Beijing is suspected of having been “disappeared” on March 7 under orders from Bo Xilai, the controversial Party secretary of Chongqing, and Wang Lijun—Bo’s former henchman, police chief, and vice mayor—has officially been branded a traitor.

Zhang Mingyu, a deputy of Chongqing’s “People’s Congress,” was said to have been disappeared because he possessed sensitive information related to Bo’s political campaigns, according to recent reports.

The reported disappearance took place during the two meetings—the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress, which are held in Beijing.

Click this tag to read The Epoch Times’ collection of articles on the Chinese Regime in Crisis. Intra-CCP politics are a challenge to make sense of, even for veteran China watchers. Here we attempt to provide readers with the necessary context to understand the situation.

The news of Zhang’s disappearance was first reported by a friend who uses the handle “Chenjia” on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog.

“Chenjia” initially wrote that four officials from Chongqing had confined Zhang to his Beijing apartment, providing Zhang’s precise address and cellphone number. He later added that Zhang was “taken away without legal process … disappeared in broad daylight.”

This account was confirmed by Zhang’s lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

When contacted by The Epoch Times, Pu indicated that he hasn’t yet accepted a case from Zhang.

Separately, Wang Lijun, Bo’s disgraced former right-hand man, has been branded a traitor by Hu Jintao in a recent internal briefing for Communist Party members, according to the South China Morning Post, citing a source close to a Communist Party advisory body. “All officials above prefectural levels in Chongqing were told the day before yesterday [March 4] that Wang had betrayed the country,” the Post reported, citing a Chongqing official. Wang was accused of corruption and “moral degeneration.”

Wang had attempted to defect at the U.S. Consulate at Chengdu on Feb. 6. According to the Washington Free Beacon, Wang brought with him a stack of documents, documents that Beijing has asked the United States to return. Wang is said to have told the U.S. consular officials about Bo’s corruption and links to organized crime, as well as information about the repression of dissidents in China.

Zhang’s disappearance came not long after he wrote about the suicide of another official, Shui Zhengkuan, a former member of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee—the Party organ that Bo Xilai is chief of. Shui “committed suicide in a luxury villa area for high-ranking officials in the municipality at noon on Saturday,” Zhang had written.

Shui Zhengkuan was close with a businessman and suspected mob boss Weng Zhenjie, who Zhang Mingyu was also familiar with.

Zhang had been extorted by Weng Zhenjie and Wang Lijun, according to posts made to Zhang’s Weibo account after his disappearance. An individual controlling his account wrote that Zhang had asked him to post on Zhang’s behalf. He added that Zhang was disappeared to prevent him from making public the threats from Weng and Wang, which Zhang had apparently retained audio evidence of.

Zhang used to be president of the Tongchuang Group, a real estate developer, but the company was later bought out—on ambiguous terms—by Chongqing Trust, the CEO is Weng Zhenjie. Weng is also president of Southwest Securities Company, Ltd., one of the first local securities firm to receive investment from the central government.

In 2011 Zhang had openly accused Weng, in the Economic Observer, a weekly newspaper in China, of receiving a massive amount of bribes and misappropriating 184 million yuan (US$29 million) in public funds for investing in underground institutions that then lent the money at usurious rates. These organizations were apparently connected to Bo Xilai’s neo-communist political movement titled Singing Red and Hitting the Black, referring to singing Maoist songs and stamping out so-called gangs. Thousands were imprisoned in the frenzied campaign, which many critics saw as a travesty of the rule of law and a partial revival of Cultural Revolution-style violence and political persecution.

The term “Shui Zhengkuan” can no longer be searched on Weibo.

With reporting by Rong Rui.