Wang Lijun, the Chinese official from Chongqing that caused an uproar after visiting the U.S. Embassy on Feb. 6, has been handed over to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), a secretive and powerful Party organ that investigates and punishes cadres suspected of corruption, according to Chinese media reports.
The news initially appeared on Caixin, a relatively liberal media company founded by Hu Shuli, a well-known media figure. It was soon deleted from that website, but the long article was re-posted to the website of Phoenix Television, a Hong Kong-based broadcaster that is loyal to Beijing.
The Chinese Internet rumor mill generally suspects that Wang was put under investigation by the CCDI as a means for high-level Party leaders to strike at Bo Xilai. Wang may have cut a deal with the CCDI to provide information on Bo that can be used to bring him down, in exchange for more lenient treatment, these rumors say.
Trouble with Wang began on Feb. 2, when the Chongqing city government announced that he had been transferred to handling “culture, education, and environmental protection.” It was a significant and public demotion from his position as vice-mayor, chief of police, and most importantly, right-hand man to strongman Bo Xilai—and it was the beginning of the chain of events that was to follow.
Wang is known for being the public face of Bo Xilai’s public campaigns to “strike the black,” referring ostensibly to cracking down on organized crime. Many of the punishments meted out during the campaign, beginning in 2008, targeted innocents, however—businessmen who would be accused of mafia activities so their wealth could be plundered by Party bosses.
After the demotion Wang gave no sign of being perturbed. On Feb. 5 he visited the Chongqing Educational Committee and Chongqing Normal University, talking freely about his job change. “As the vice mayor, after being delegated, I have to take care of educational, scientific, economic, as well as environmental issues. There is a lot of pressure in managing micro-scale businesses and environmental issues. Every task is a challenge for me and a good learning opportunity.” Wang spoke calmly, and no one suspected that he would the next day flee to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.
The precise time that Wang arrived at and left the consulate are unclear. Various online reports indicate that he arrived on Feb. 6 and stayed until late that night, or the early morning hours of Feb. 7. Later on Feb. 7 he was escorted to Beijing by Qiu Jin, a vice minister of state security, according to reports online, which reference two first-class plane tickets in the names of the two men.
On Feb. 9 Wang was put under the investigation of CCP Central Disciplinary Committee, according to the Caixin report.
With research by Ariel Tian and translation by Sophia Fang.