Has China’s most famous police official defected to the United States?

Wang Lijun


There are rumors that China’s most famous law enforcement official may have tried to defect to the United States, after Chinese police surrounded a US consulate in Southwest China. Three years ago, Wang Lijun, the chief of police in Chongqing, a city of nearly 30 million inhabitants, launched an extensive campaign aimed at dismantling southwestern China’s criminal networks. Among his targets were the notorious Triad gangs, as well as China’s extensive drugs, human, and consumer goods smuggling networks. Since that time, he has conducted nearly 1,100 arrests, helped convict several organized syndicate bosses to death, and overseen an anti-corruption program that led to the removal or arrest of several Chongqing police officials. Media sources in China report that Wang, who has become a popular icon of anti-corruption campaigners in China, has been targeted in numerous knife and sniper attacks, one of which left him in a coma for over a week. But the 52-year-old police official has survived thanks to the support of the Chinese government and Chongqing’s Communist Party secretary, Bo Xilai, who in 2011 appointed Wang to the position of vice-mayor. All this changed last week, however, when Bo’s office abruptly issued a brief statement saying that Want had been demoted to a local government post outside the law enforcement chain of command. On the following day, it emerged that a group of investigators from the Communist Party of China’s Central Disciplinary Commission had been dispatched to Chongqing to check on Wang’s activities. And on Wednesday, another cryptic message from the Chinese government stated that Wang had accepted “vacation-style treatment […] because of long-term overwork”, which had left him “highly stressed and in poor health”. A few hours later, however, news emerged that Chinese police forces had surrounded the building of the American consulate in Chengdu, a city neighboring Chongqing, in a move that some say is connected with Wang. Observers now speculate that Wang may have in fact tried to defect to the United States after falling out with his former mentor, Bo. Chinese police and government officials insist that they have no knowledge of Wang’s alleged defection. Representing the US embassy in Beijing, Richard Buangan told Reuters news agency that the US diplomatic mission “would not comment on reports of asylum claims”.

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