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China graft-buster placed on `stress leave`

A top official linked to one of China`s most powerful politicians has been placed on leave for stress, the government said.

Beijing: A top official linked to one of
China`s most powerful politicians has been placed on leave for
stress, the government said on Wednesday, amid speculation that he
had tried to flee the country.

Wang Lijun, vice mayor and former police chief of
Chongqing, 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 southwestern city of 30 million people.

He has close links with Chongqing`s Communist Party
secretary Bo Xilai, who is the son of a Chinese revolutionary
and is 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 today, Chinese websites buzzed with rumours he had sought
asylum at the US consulate in the southwestern city of

The Chongqing government refused to comment when
contacted by AFP, but a posting on an official microblog said
Wang was on sick leave -- a term often used as a euphemism for
a political purge in China`s one-party system.

"Due to long-term overwork, a high level of mental stress
and physical exhaustion, Vice Mayor Wang Lijun is currently
receiving vacation-style treatment following approval," the
provincial government said today.

China`s Internet authorities have censored microblog
postings and searches using Wang`s name, although news
websites widely carried the government statement.

The US embassy in Beijing refused to comment on rumours
of an asylum request, which comes at a sensitive time with
China`s vice president and leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping is due
to make an official visit to Washington next week.


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