Further details about the former Chongqing police chief whose dramatic attempt to defect to the US brought down political heavyweight Bo Xilai and unleashed China’s biggest political storm in decades have emerged as Beijing begins briefing senior officials in Hong Kong about the case.
According to sources who attended the latest briefing in Shenzhen, central government leaders concluded that Wang Lijun had “tried to defect” – which in theory is punishable with the death penalty – but said that he had partly made up for his crimes by making “contributions” – a reference to his co-operation with the investigation into Bo.
“The senior officials said Wang had attempted to defect but he has atoned for his crime by doing some good deeds,” a source said, suggesting Wang might escape execution.
The details were disclosed after senior executives of major mainland-funded enterprises and institutions in Hong Kong were called to a secluded guesthouse in Shenzhen last week for a briefing about the Bo Xilai affair and the central leadership’s view of the case, according to sources.
While the official account of Bo’s downfall has been circulated internally for weeks, the latest briefing suggests that Beijing may soon publicise its final view on Bo, his wife, Gu Kailai – who has been detained on suspicion of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood – and Wang, the princeling politician’s former henchman.
Beijing is apparently eager to bring a swift conclusion to the case, with the Communist Party’s most important leadership reshuffle in a decade only months away.
The fate of Wang – a politically insignificant player until his attempt to defect at the US consulate in Chengdu in early February – has always been a subject of speculation. Gu is likely to be found to be the main culprit, with Bo taking “secondary responsibilities”, according to officials who chaired the Shenzhen briefing.
This suggests that Bo may escape severe punishment but that his wife will not be so lucky.
The officials were briefed at the Zijing (Bauhinia) Villa in Shenzhen early last week, according to a senior executive of a Hong Kong-based mainland institute. A manager of a mainland-funded company in Hong Kong confirmed that its president had been asked to attend the same meeting.
The guesthouse is often reserved for meetings hosted in Shenzhen by senior officials and state leaders.
Bo, a leading candidate to join the nation’s supreme ruling body until his arrest on April 10, is being investigated by the Communist Party’s own disciplinary inspectors for “severely breaching discipline”. Gu and a member of the Bo family’s staff, Zhang Xiaojun, are under arrest as part of the probe into Heywood’s suspected murder.
Wang has been held for investigation since his dramatic bid to defect.
South China Morning Post