The Wang Lijun incident is a major Chinese political scandal which began in February 2012 when Wang Lijun, vice-mayor of Chongqing, was abruptly demoted, after revealing to the United States consulate details of British businessman Neil Heywood’s murder and subsequent cover-up.
Wang is the former vice-mayor and chief of police of the southwestern China megapolis of Chongqing City, and was the right-hand man of Bo Xilai, the city’s Communist Party chief who is known as an ultra-leftist hardliner, and who has been wrangling to win a position on the Standing Committee of the Politburo, the group of nine men who stand at the top of the Party’s hierarchy.
Wang was unexpectedly demoted on Feb. 2 from his posts and reassigned to handle “culture, education, and environmental protection.” On Feb. 5 he talked about the importance of his new job responsibilities at Chongqing Normal University and elsewhere. No one suspected that he would flee to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu the next day.
The following account of what happened when Wang tried to defect was first published on Weibo, the Chinese microblog service, by a user named Sun Dapao in ten separate posts. Sun’s account has since been blocked, but Sun’s account has been widely circulated on China’s Internet. Its authenticity is yet to be validated.
After Wang came home at 5:00 pm on Feb. 6, the surveillance officer [in charge of monitoring Wang’s residence] reported, “Everything is normal,” and three groups were withdrawn from a surveillance team of six groups. The remaining three groups were arranged at the front and the rear of the building, and as backup. Each group consisted of three officers.
Wang carefully observed the outside situation from his windows. Half an hour later, with surveillance relaxed, he left the building disguised as an old woman, in a car previously arranged with an ordinary license plate, and calmly drove away. He then replaced the license plate with a Chongqing police plate and sped off.
When he was close to Chengdu, Wang called the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu from a temporary cell phone: “This is the Deputy Mayor of Chongqing City, Wang Lijun. I want to ask for political asylum. I will arrive in Chengdu City soon,” he said.
Thirty minutes later, around 9:00 pm on Feb. 6, Wang Lijun, Deputy Mayor of Chongqing City of the People’s Republic of China, drove into the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu.
U.S. Consul-General Peter Haymond (aka Cao Cao) and several vice consuls were waiting and received Wang in a conference room. Upon his arrival, Wang immediately asked for political asylum. As evidence [of his life being endangered] Wang submitted photos of his subordinate(s) who had been secretly arrested and tortured to death, and a video about a plot by Bo Xilai to have Wang killed, making it appear like either a suicide, a car accident, a disappearance, or a shooting death during an escape related to counterfeit crimes.
After a long talk, the United States officials told Wang: “We have received your application for political asylum, but we need to report to Gary Locke, the U.S. Ambassador in Beijing, who will determine your approval. We hope you understand.”
Gary Locke, upon receiving the telephone report from the Consul-General in Chengdu at 11:00 pm, immediately made a detailed report to the White House.
Meanwhile, using arrangements made by the U.S. [Consulate] and using code words, Wang contacted his family to let them know that he was safe.
At 5:00 am on Feb. 7, U.S. Ambassador Locke formally notified the Consul-General in Chengdu, saying the White House had rejected Wang’s application for political asylum.
But the U.S. government also authorized Locke to possibly give Wang humanitarian assistance. At 6:00 am, U.S. officials accompanied Wang to breakfast and to discuss how to help him. Wang’s own proposal was to surrender himself to the central [leadership] of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), but not to Bo Xilai.
Wang told the U.S. Consul, “I am just escaping from Bo Xilai’s political assassination, that’s why I’m hiding inside the American Consulate.”
The U.S. Consul agreed that this was the only explanation that the Communist Party would accept.
At 8:00 am (Beijing time) on Feb. 7, Gary Locke notified the CCP. The CCP immediately [sent someone from] the Ministry of State Security to fly to Chengdu, to safely take Wang to Beijing. [Information supplied by] Wang would serve to investigate Bo Xilai, Huang Qifan [the mayor of Chongqing] and their men.
At 7:00 am the surveillance team [outside Wang’s residence] realized that Wang had slipped away. Through a Beijing informer, Bo had already learned that Wang had escaped to the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu.
Bo immediately told Huang Qifan to lead 70 police cars into Chengdu. Seeing the Consulate surrounded by police, the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu immediately contacted Ambassador Locke in Beijing again, who notified the CCP that police was surrounding the American Consulate in Chengdu.
A furious CCP immediately ordered the [Communist Party] secretary of Sichuan Province to be in charge of Wang’s safety as well as the safety of the American Consulate staff. They dispatched both Sichuan Provincial National Security and police to expel Chongqing police from Chengdu while waiting for the arrival of the official from the central [Ministry of State Security in Beijing].
At 12:00 pm Chongqing police, led by Huang Qifan, were expelled from Chengdu.
At 2:00 pm Qiu Jin, the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Public Security arrived with ministry staff in Chengdu and took over the command.
At 3:00 pm Qiu arranged for a meeting with Bo Xilai, and asked for an explanation.
An hour later, Qiu informed Wang Lijun on the telephone of a message from Hu Jintao: “Your problem will be dealt with fairly by the CCP, we will not accuse a good person nor will we forgive a bad person.”
Wang replied that he was willing to be investigated by the CCP. “I will not deny my crimes, but those that aren’t mine, I will never admit to. I am filing a charge against Bo and his family for corruption,” he said.
From 4:30 to 5:30 pm, Wang met with the American Consulate General, and provided the United States a pile of documents.
Wang revealed that Bo and his wife, like most senior Party leaders, had amassed illicit fortunes through corruption. However, most details involved the murder of the British businessman, expatriate Neil Haywood, who was involved in financial activities related to Bo and his family and ran afoul of Bo’s wife. Mr. Wang told American officials that Ms. Gu Kailai had plotted to poison Mr. Heywood, and turned over a police file containing highly technical documents, according to people knowledgeable about the case,
Mr. Wang also apparently revealed far more. Beyond evidence relating to Mr. Heywood, diplomats acquired a unprecedented trove of knowledge from Mr. Wang on the contest for power among the Chinese leadership, said another person with knowledge of the affair who refused to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter. It was unclear whether those details were in documents that Mr. Wang brought with him, or emerged in discussions with the diplomats.
Instead of sheltering Wang and granting him asylum, the US turned him over to Chinese authorities, saying he was not qualified for sanctuary because of his past role as a police chief accused of corruption.
Critics say the case demonstrates U.S. desire to preserve ties with China’s communist leadership instead of possibly obtaining crucial intelligence on a potentially growing threat to the U.S., according to the Free Beacon.
Sources told Bill Gertz, a national security reporter, that Wang handed U.S. officials key information about Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang’s planned coup against Xi Jinping, the heir apparent of the Chinese Communist Party.
A well-placed source has now told The Epoch Times that Wang gave U.S. officials confidential documents containing critical information about top communist officials’ involvement in the persecution of Falun Gong. The source said Wang provided details about organ harvesting from living Falun Gong practitioners in China’s network of military hospitals, prisons, mental hospitals, and labor camps.
At 6:00 pm, Wang left the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu by himself.
At 8:00 am on Feb. 8, Wang was escorted to Beijing by the Vice Minister from the Ministry of Public Security.
China has spared the high-flying police chief whose flight to a US consulate led to the toppling of leader Bo Xilai, with a court in Chengdu handing him a relatively lenient 15 year jail sentence on Monday.
Wang Lijun, 52, had previously been Bo’s right hand man in Chongqing, winning plaudits for the pair’s populist anti-gang crackdown and earning a promotion to vice mayor.
State news agency Xinhua said the Chengdu intermediate people’s court found him guilty of defection, accepting bribes of at least 3 million yuan, abuse of power and bending the law to selfish ends by covering up the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood by Bo’s wife Gu Kailai.
Gu was last month handed a suspended death sentence for the crime, while an aide who helped her was jailed for nine years.
“[Fifteen years] was in the realm of expectations but I would say on the low end of what most people were expecting,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, an expert on the Chinese criminal justice system.
The crimes for which Wang was convicted carry penalties ranging from several years in prison to the death sentence.
The court sentenced Wang to two years imprisonment for abuse of power, two years for defection, nine years for bribe-taking and seven for bending the law for selfish ends. But in total, his sentence is 15 years and he may serve far less if given parole.
Wang’s lawyers have said he will not appeal. Analysts say there would be little point since his sentence will have been decided at a high level due to the sensitivity of the case.
The indictment against Wang said he knew that Gu Kailai – Mr Bo’s wife – was a murder suspect.
Wang, however, ”bent the law” by appointing Guo Weiguo – the deputy chief of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau and ”a close friend” of both Wang and Gu – to oversee the case
Wang hid a recording of Gu’s account of the killing from the police, the report added.
However, before the November 2012 Congress, officials charged Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, and a family aide with “intentional homicide.” After a two-day trial in August of the same year, she was found guilty of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood, once a friend of the Bo family. Gu was given a suspended death sentence, the aide was sentenced to nine years in jail.
The following month Bo was expelled from the Communist Party and relieved of his duty. In July 2013, state media said he had been indicted for bribery, corruption and abuse of power.
Wang was born in a remote corner of Inner Mongolia and spent two years as a “rusticated youth” during the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s.
He first crossed paths with Bo in the northeastern province of Liaoning where he had worked his way up the region’s public security bureau and Bo was governor.
After Bo was promoted to the top job in Chongqing in 2007, Wang followed him and was assigned to lead his crime-fighting program.
Under Wang, the “da hei” (literally translated as “smash black”) campaign reportedly caught nearly 3,000 criminal groups and detained thousands of suspects. It also led to the execution of notorious figures in the city’s underworld.
The crackdown, along with economic reforms in the city of more than 30 million, helped burnish the political credentials of Bo, who aspired for a spot in the Party’s Standing Committee of the Politburo, a nine-member body that effectively rules China.
Allegations of torture
Wang’s heavy-handed, crime-busting methods were decried as brutal by critics.
At the height of the campaign, Beijing-based lawyer Li Zhuang defended an alleged gang member and discovered police torture during interrogation.
“For eight days and eight nights, my client was repeatedly hung from the ceiling,” Li recalled in an interview with CNN.
“He eventually soiled himself. His interrogators ordered him to remove the feces on the floor with his bare hands and use his shorts to wipe it clean. Then they hung him up naked.”
As he tried to expose the interrogators’ crimes, Li said, he was detained, tortured and promptly sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison under the direct order of Wang for “fabricating evidence and inciting witnesses.”
Wang was also known for his unconventional working style and according to the Chongqing Commercial News, once worked as a taxi driver to gauge public opinion on local security and police issues.