The former top cop of a major Chinese city has dropped from sight amid unconfirmed reports he is seeking US asylum following a quarrel with one of China's most powerful local politicians. Wang Lijun, a crusading lawman who made his name busting crime gangs and inspired a drama on state TV (called Iron-Blooded Police Spirits), has taken leave to recover from anxiety and overwork, the city government of Chongqing said in a statement today. But many aren't buying the official line.
Wang was shuffled out of his role as police chief last week, prompting speculation of a falling-out with the city's powerful Communist Party secretary, Bo Xilai, who is widely believed to be seeking national office. Days of speculation about his situation spiked with online reports that he sought asylum at the American consulate in the nearby southwestern city of Chengdu yesterday after quarreling with Bo. In a sign of the sensitivity of the matter, search results for Wang and Bo were blocked on China's hugely popular Sina Weibo microblogging service. (Read more Wang Lijun stories.)