Saturday, February 11, 2012

When Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, flies to Chongqing Saturday to wrap up a five-day tour of China, he may be walking into the middle of one of the biggest power struggles in recent Chinese history. His host, Bo Xilai, party secretary in the southwestern megacity, is a prominent “princeling” who has been tipped to join China’s powerful Politburo Standing Committee during a generational change of leadership in October. Chinese politician Wang Lijun mysteriously disappears amid rumours he tried to defect February 9, Wang Lijun, a former gang-busting policeman and now Vice Mayor of Central China’s Chongqing, requested a meeting at a U.S. consulate general, according to a U.S. official.

"Wang Lijun did request a meeting at the U.S. consulate general in Chengdu earlier this week," Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman of the United States Department of State, said on Wednesday. Chengdu and Chongqing are both cities in Sichuan province.

Nuland said the state department did not talk about issues related to those seeking refugee status or asylum. Responding to rumors that Wang was forced to leave the consulate, Nuland said: “[Wang] left of his own volition.... He walked out. It was his choice.” In a statement made after news of his visit to the U.S. consulate broke, the Chongqing government announced on Wednesday that Wang was receiving "vacation-style treatment" for stress. No other details were given. [Wang] left of his own volition.... He walked out. It was his choice.” ;