Top China graft-buster visited consulate: US

The Chongqing government refused comment on Wang`s visit to the consulate.

Beijing: The US on Thursday confirmed that a top
official linked to one of China`s most high-profile Communist
leaders had visited one of its consulates, amid speculation he
tried to defect.

The US embassy in Beijing declined to comment on rumours
that Wang Lijun sought asylum, but the visit will further fuel
growing intrigue surrounding Wang and his boss, Chongqing`s
Communist Party secretary Bo Xilai.

As Bo`s deputy, Wang -- whose current whereabouts are
unknown -- won a reputation for graft-busting with a campaign
to rid the southwestern city of corruption in which dozens of
officials were arrested.

Analysts said the scandal surrounding Wang could hamper
Bo`s chances of promotion to the nine-member Politburo
Standing Committee, China`s top decision-making body, when
seven members, including President Hu Jintao, step down later
this year.

"Wang Lijun did request a meeting at the US Consulate
General in Chengdu (Sichuan province) earlier this week in his
capacity as vice mayor," embassy spokesman Justin Higgins said.

"The meeting was scheduled, our folks met with him, he
did visit the consulate and he later left the consulate of his
own volition."

Higgins refused to comment on the rumours that Wang was
seeking political asylum, which appear to have been fuelled by
reports that scores of police vehicles descended on the
consulate on Tuesday evening.

Chongqing authorities removed Wang as police chief -- a
position he held in addition to vice mayor -- last week before
announcing Wednesday he was on leave, receiving
"vacation-style treatment" for stress and over-work.

Sick leave is a term often used as a euphemism for a
political purge in China`s murky one-party communist system.

"Wang`s dismissal is most likely the result of high-level
in-fighting," Willy Lam, a leading China expert at the Chinese
University of Hong Kong, said.

"Bo`s chances for the (Politburo appointment) have been
adversely affected. It`s long-standing `organisational
principle` of the CCP (Communist Party) that a region`s No. 1
has to take political responsibility for the misdemeanours of
his subordinates."

As Bo`s right-hand man, Wang, 52, an ethnic Mongolian,
gained national fame while toppling former city deputy police
chief Wen Qiang in a massive crime crackdown. Wen was executed
in 2010.

The Chongqing government refused comment on Wang`s visit
to the consulate.