China's Police Chief Mystery (Page 2 of 2)

So it could be Bo, but this seems unlikely – Wang’s downfall undermines one of the core elements of Bo’s political narrative, the crackdown on organized crime that was Bo’s first signature initiative in Chongqing and which has won him widespread popularity in the city.  Bo brought Wang with him from China’s northeast in order to head the campaign, and Wang also reportedly coordinated Bo’s public relations effort to commemorate the campaign with a five-volume history, a big budget film and a TV series. That said, Wang is a big personality – a minor celebrity in his own right – and he’s been rumored to be unhappy about being overshadowed by his boss, so there’s a chance the incident is simply a remarkably nasty falling out.

More interesting – and more dramatic – is the chance that Wang is the victim of a plot targeting his boss. Wang’s arrest is reminiscent of the 2006 Shanghai pensions scandal, which ultimately brought down the Party chief of Shanghai after investigators had worked their way up through his subordinates.    The investigation has been widely seen as masterminded by Hu’s Communist Youth League faction, which was in the process of consolidating power after taking over from Jiang Zemin’s* “Shanghai clique.” Rumors favor the same group as the driving force behind the current scandal; Bo shares a connection with incoming president Xi Jinping as a “princeling” – the son of one of the Party’s earliest leaders – and is generally seen as belonging to its more conservative faction.

But Wang hasn’t yet been formally charged or denounced – Xinhua reports that he’s on “vacation-style medical leave” after a breakdown caused by overwork. He hasn’t even been fired, although he has been reassigned to a post in charge of municipal sanitation and parks. If Wang is a vehicle to get to Bo, it seems that the standing committee hasn’t yet reached consensus on the next step.

Indeed, China’s political apparatus has clearly been taken by surprise to some extent –as of Friday there been only one, sparsely written story from Xinhua, while social media and blogs have been left free to speculate endlessly on the implications of the case. This could mean that Wang’s arrest wasn’t planned at a high a level – or that it was planned to be carried out quietly without the trip to the consulate.  China Media Project has a great roundup of the domestic newspaper coverage – all nearly verbatim reprints of the Xinhua story, but ranging in play from small buried stories to headlines covering the front page.

There’s a particularly interesting (so far unsupported) rumor that draws attention to a recent trend of people in desperate situations turning to public opinion to protect themselves from local thugs, and it’s possible that Wang calculated that by making his case a national story he could ensure that he couldn’t be disappeared in secret, whether by local powers or the national Party.  Personally, I’m doubtful, but it would be a spectacularly bold use of the press by a man who, like his former boss, has made a career of it.

For the time being, the wisest thing for many to admit may be that they simply don’t know for sure what’s going on. But what happens next in the Wang Lijun case is extremely important, because it may be the first sign we have of the direction China will take in the next ten years.

*We would like to apologize for the earlier spelling error of the former Chinese leader's name which some of our readers pointed out. No disrespect was intended.

February 17, 2012 at 20:11

Believing in china’s “peaceful rise” is like having no brains.

February 14, 2012 at 10:52


“Believing American is in the business of democracy and human rights is a fallacy” is a conclusion of history facts.

Haha – we’ve all seen how good you are at interpreting facts

John Chan
February 14, 2012 at 05:48

Harper finally comes around to view China with proper perspective. Lagging behind a hard line conservative and insisting on distorted neocon point of view is harmful to the world peace and prosperity.

John Chan
February 14, 2012 at 05:38

“Believing American is in the business of democracy and human rights is a fallacy” is a conclusion of history facts.

“Believing in china’s ‘peaceful rise’ is like having no brains.” is a baseless conjecture with ill intent.

February 14, 2012 at 02:45

@John Chan: Believing in china’s “peaceful rise” is like having no brains.

John Chan
February 14, 2012 at 02:41

Wang’s episode should be an opportunity for Chinese to do some deep soul searching, condemning Wang is an easy way out of the scandal; Chinese need to ask the question, why did Wang not seek redress of his grievance through China’s judicial system or public media instead of seeking refuge from a predatory imperialist that seeks to destroy his nation? To provide venues that can address unfairness publicly will the biggest challenge to China before it can achieve its greatness on world scale.

John Chan
February 13, 2012 at 23:11

Believing American is in the business of democracy and human rights is a fallacy.

Fu Man-chu : A Traitor Uncovered?
February 13, 2012 at 22:25

Why to the American Consulate and not other country’s? I question Wang’s choice. Seems to me he has too close a connection with the Americans and may be in their pay or obligated to Washington one way or another. Rather than gaining PR points to avoid incarceration by the Chinese government, I would say, his action reflect more of one betraying his own country and loyalty to a foreign government. A traitor and a boot-licking American agent whose cover has been blown?

Leonard R.
February 13, 2012 at 12:28

That sounds very plausible. But it sure does not make the US look good to potential
PRC defectors. Some of them might actually have something to offer.

It sets a very bad precedent IMO.

February 13, 2012 at 11:56

The threat to family is too great. Better to let yourself die than also destroy your family.

February 13, 2012 at 11:55

One is surprised at your view of muck raking by the author. Surely, by alluding to innuendo a most important point is made: there is no truth, no transparency, or vehicle for knowledge to determine what happens to the people’s representatives where this so-called People’s Democracy is anything but.

February 13, 2012 at 09:31

I think he made an attempt to save his own skin by trying to get asylum.

The US picked his brains for a while – found out that he didn’t know anything that special on the inner sanctum of the CCP bigwigs

So, didn’t want to ruin Xi Jinping’s trip to the States on a diplomatic incident over this and asked him to leave, “of his own volition” of course

And that’s “Number WANG”

February 13, 2012 at 09:26

杀鸡鸡鸡 – or Kill the chicken to scare the monkey

February 12, 2012 at 16:11

we chinese have long resigned to the truism that nobody wades through the dirty water of politics without getting their feet wet. so whether his arrest is politically motivated or otherwise can only be speculated on since there is no credible source of infos that would shed sufficient light on the mystery. so as long as we masses can live in peace and make our ends meet, we dont give a rat’s ass about why these corrupted officials fell victim to some hideous and vicious political schemes.
what baffles me though is author’s motive in writing about vaious theories circulating on line and yet admitting that these r just theories without any concret evdence to back them up. he whets audience’s appetite with his assertion that we should keep a close eye on next event that unfolds. if he is sincere, he would be much more useful in turning people out in the upcoming election of us where people have been sick of all these pyschodrama, dirt-flingling tactics.

sometimes things are better being left unkown and i am certain whoever is gonna fall next or whatever explosive news hit the tv in the leadup to the transition wont unravel the stability and growth of chinese society. those us a..h..s can be sure of that.

February 12, 2012 at 15:53

There is a saying in Chinese which roughly translated says:

If I want to shoot you I shoot your chicken first!

February 12, 2012 at 15:19

I believe that it has been a conspiracy against Bo Xilai.

I do not believe that this will give a sign of where China is headed.

So long as the international situation remains,China maintains a collective leadership style and the country is showing GDP growth,China will continuoe in the current path.

Leonard R.
February 12, 2012 at 14:53

This is a very strange story.

He spent 24 hours inside the US Consulate?
Then why did he leave “on his own volition”?

Why was he there and why did he leave? Those are the first two questions I have.

Did he make a claim for asylum? If not, what was he doing inside the US Consulate for
24 hours?

If he made a claim for asylum? Was it denied?

Was some kind of deal made between the US and the PRC?

Nobody looks good in this mess. The PRC rarely looks good anymore.
But the US behavior here is hard to understand also.

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