Sun, Feb 12, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Police chief flies to Beijing amid defection rumors

AFP, Beijing

A former Chinese police chief whose visit to a US consulate sparked rumors he was trying to defect flew to Beijing with a top state security officer after meeting US officials in southwest China.

Chongqing Deputy Mayor and former police chief Wang Lijun (王立軍) flew first class from Chengdu to Beijing on Wednesday, according to a travel Web site authorized to show passenger flight details.

Chinese Vice Minister of State Security Qiu Jin (邱進) had a first-class seat on the same flight. The Web site Travelsky, which is backed by China’s aviation regulator, shows the tickets were used.

Wang is famed as one of China’s top graft-busters after leading a crackdown that led to scores of senior officials being jailed in the city of 30 million people.

He also has close links with Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙來), who is the son of a Chinese revolutionary and widely expected to be promoted to a top party post in a 10-yearly leadership transition that begins this year.

Wang was dismissed as Chongqing police chief last week, and on Wednesday Chinese Web sites buzzed with rumors he had sought asylum at the US consulate in Chengdu.

The US embassy in Beijing confirmed Wang’s visit to the consulate this week, but declined to comment on the rumors he had sought asylum, saying only that he had gone there for a meeting and left “of his own volition.”

China’s official Xinhua news agency said authorities were “investigating the incident.”

Analysts said the confirmation of the visit would further fuel speculation surrounding Wang and Bo, and said it could hamper Bo’s chances of promotion to the nine-member politburo standing committee, China’s top decision-making body.

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