Who is he?
Wang Lijun is the former police chief and vice mayor in Chongqing, China. In his earlier days as deputy police chief he was extensively involved in the heavy crackdown on gangs ordered by the city’s then-Party Chief Bo Xilai. Wang was responsible for the arrest of many high-profile party officials including Chongqing’s former Justice Chief Wen Qiang, and his performance earned him the reputation of a “hero gang buster” and loyal follower of Bo.
He was promoted to police chief, later became Chongqing’s vice mayor and even had a television show that featured his exploits. As chief, Wang was involved in the police investigation of Neil Heywood’s death late last year, in which Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai was implicated. His role in the investigation led to a falling out with Bo and his dismissal as the police chief.
Why is he in the news?
Recently, Wang underwent a two-day trial for defection, power abuse, and bribe-taking; the verdict is due on September 24. On February 6, 2012, Wang fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chongqing, which set in motion the events that led his trial. According to reports, Wang was petitioning for help from the U.S. government. However, Wang’s actions were seen by Chinese officials as attempted defection, and raised concerns about state secrets being spread to American diplomats.
Upon his exit from the Consulate the following day, he was escorted away by Chinese authorities. Both Wang’s dramatic stay in the U.S. Consulate and his role in revealing Gu’s ties to the murder case put him under enormous scrutiny. His stay at the U.S. Consulate also created considerable tension in Sino-U.S. relations at the time. Wang’s actions resulted in rising star Bo Xilai’s eventual fall from grace due to the scandal and rocked Chinese politics during a time the CCP sought stability.
What can we expect?
A guilty verdict and an end to his career in the Communist Party are ensured, as Wang did not contest the charges laid against him and high Communist officials see him as a significant risk to the party’s image. However, because Wang cooperated in the investigation of Gu Kailai, he is likely to avoid the death penalty.
Now a story from China’s official news agency Xinhua indicates that Bo Xilai could face official charges, in which case Wang’s trial may be a preview for how Bo will be treated. In the broader context, the leadership in Beijing are eager to put this scandal behind them, as dealing with Bo is a prerequisite to commencing the 18th Party Congress and getting on with the business of the Chinese leadership transition.