Chongqing's security bureau holds an anti-trafficking drill in 2005. Former party chief Bo Xilai reportedly purchased 5,000 rifles from a local munitions factory last year in the name of the bureau. (File photo/Xinhua)
Detained former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun is rumored to hold evidence of a secret plot by Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang to block the expected succession of Chinese vice president Xi Jinping as general secretary of the Communist Party, according to Mingjing News, a New York-based website allegedly sourced by political insiders.
The stunning dismissal of former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai has been widely speculated to be linked to the drama surrounding his former right-hand man, Wang Lijun, the city's former police chief and deputy mayor. Wang, who was transferred from Liaoning to Chongqing at Bo's request to help the latter in an effort to stamp out organized crime and corruption, deserted his post and sought political asylum at the US consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 5, but later surrendered to government agents and is now believed to be detained in Beijing. Bo meanwhile was removed from his official posts on March 15 and is rumored to have been placed under house arrest, although most reports on the underlying causes of the ongoing political drama have thus far contained little more than unconfirmed speculation.
Mingjing News, a widely read news portal, has now linked Bo's downfall to an alleged conspiracy to prevent Xi from becoming the most powerful member of the CCP.
According to an unnamed Beijing source, Zhou Yongkang, a member of the elite nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, secretly promised to help Bo join him in the country's most powerful decision-making body and take over his role as secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee. This would have allowed Bo to control the People's Armed Police and Ministry of Public Security, and force Xi to step down before inserting himself in the vice president's place as expected future general secretary, the source said.
Mingjing also reported that Bo, through Wang and in the name of Chongqing's Public Security Bureau, purchased 5,000 rifles and 50,000 rounds of ammunition from a local munitions factory last year in order to create a private army. The People's Armed Police has already been sent to Chongqing to investigate the whereabouts of the weapons, the report said.
Another Mingjing News "revelation" suggests that since Chinese New Year, Bo had been using his influence over domestic and international media to heighten attention on the forthcoming 18th CPC National People's Congress, where Xi is expected to succeed Hu Jintao, current president and general secretary. Mingjing alleges that this was part of Bo's inside-outside assault to destabilize Hu, Xi and Premier Wen Jiabao while inserting himself into the leadership conversation.
Hu's predecessor Jiang Zemin — who continues to hold significant influence over the Chinese political landscape — is also believed to be involved in the Bo Xilai affair, according to Mingjing. Jiang has allegedly called Zhou a traitor for backing Bo and is said to have supported Hu and Wen's presumed decision to remove him from positions of power. Jiang and former vice president Zeng Qinghong believe a smooth succession is critical to maintaining the stability of China's political system and any dissent must therefore be quashed, Mingjing News wrote.
Bo no doubt presented a challenge to the ideology of China's current crop of leaders. His political flamboyance presented a stark contrast to the technocratic rule of Hu and Wen. The "Chongqing model" advocated by Bo, with its frequent throwbacks to the Cultural Revolution and invocation of long-abandoned strains of Maoism, is believed to have made the centers of power in Beijing uneasy.
An unnamed analyst told Mingjing that Zhou will need to stop his "recalcitrant" behavior and maintain civility towards Jiang and Hu, or face an unpleasant outcome.
A Mingjing source said the key link in the Bo Xilai saga is a businessman by the name of Kong Tao. Wang Lijun was willing to leave the US consulate in Chengdu and hand himself over to authorities because Zhou had promised him safety and immunity, the source said. The message was allegedly passed to Wang through vice minister of security Qiu Jin and Kong, the wealthy general manager of Beijing's Asia Hotel whom Zhou reportedly treats "like a son."
Wang and Kong have allegedly known each other for more than 20 years and collaborated on several business deals. Due to the closeness of their relationship, the source said that Wang has evidence of years of egregious corruption on the part of Kong, Zhou's son and wife, and their secretaries, Yu Gang and Tan Hong. Wang has reportedly moved the evidence overseas, partly to the US consulate, as leverage to ensure that he remains protected. This is why Zhou, who fears the release of that information, has not yet handed Wang over to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, sources said. Fear of the ramifications of holding information on Kong and Zhou was crucial in leading Wang to attempt defection and to Bo's eventual dismissal, said the source. Kong will remain the focus of whatever happens next, the source added.
Bo is now believed to be under house arrest in Beijing while his wife, Gu Kailai, has reportedly been taken by the discipline inspection committee for questioning. According to Foreign Reference News, a magazine rumored to be affiliated with Jiang's political faction, Hu was said to have personally directed Bo's arrest, ordering the secretariat and the director of the General Office of the Central Committee to mobilize the country's secret security force, the Central Guard Bureau.
A Beijing observer also told Mingjing that all of Bo's supporters are currently in the hands of the bureau, which arrested and detained them under a different set of rules.
Mingjing has been able to provide little substantive evidence to back up any claims made by it or its source. The website said it will reveal more news on Bo in due course.
Wang Lijun 王立軍
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Zhou Yongkang 周永康
Xi Jinping 習近平
Hu Jintao 胡錦濤
Wen Jiabiao 溫家寶
Jiang Zemin 江澤民
Zeng Qinghong 曾慶紅
Kong Tao 孔濤
Yu Gang 余剛
Tan Hung 談洪
Gu Kailai 谷開來