Leaked video sheds light on controversial U.S. asylum bid in China

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REPORTING FROM BEIJING -- A 25-minute video recording posted on YouTube over the weekend sheds new light on a mysterious and unprecedented incident last month at the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.

Wang Lijun, a senior law enforcement official from Chongqing, sought refuge in the consulate for a full day, before surrendering to officials from Beijing. The incident led to the sacking of Chongqing’s popular Communist Party secretary, Bo Xilai.

The recording purports to be a briefing made Friday to party officials in Chongqing explaining that Bo was dismissed because he tried to cover up a police investigation that touched on his family. It provides a glimpse at the frantic efforts of the Chinese leadership to exercise damage control as news of Wang’s asylum bid spread over the Internet.

In the recording, the speaker uses a strong Chongqing dialect. People familiar with the case say they believe that the video is likely to be genuine because of the detail disclosed. In addition to the recording posted on YouTube, the U.S.-based Chinese-language website Boxun published a Chinese-language transcript.


Here is a partial translation prepared by the Los Angeles Times Beijing staff:

At 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 6, Chongqing deputy mayor Wang Lijun entered the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, Sichuan provincial security reported to the Ministry of State Security. Afterward, the Ministry of State Security immediately reported to Party Center. Party central leaders like Comrade Hu Jintao paid serious attention and made important directives and took swift action to prevent acerbating the situation.

Party leaders sent staff to Chengdu on the afternoon of Feb. 7. They went to the U.S. Consulate to persuade Wang Lijun. Before this, the Chongqing municipal government also sent relevant staff into the U.S. Consulate to try to persuade Wang Lijun as well. At 11:32 p.m. Feb. 7, Wang Lijun agreed to leave the U.S. Consulate voluntarily. The next day, Feb. 8, the Ministry of State Security took Wang Lijun to Beijing for investigation.

On the morning of Feb. 9, the day after, Party Secretary Hu Jintao held a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Politburo and made arrangements for the investigation of the case. The meeting concluded that the Wang Lijun incident is the first time since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in which a provincial level official entered a foreign consulate on his own initiative and remained. ... We need to handle this properly and try our best to limit the damage this incident has brought to the party and the country. ...

Through careful investigation, we have obtained information on the background of the Wang Lijun incident and the reasons behind it. On Jan. 28, Wang Lijun came to Comrade Bo Xilai to report on some important cases related to Bo Xilai’s family members. Relevant investigators felt pressure and submitted their resignation letter to Wang. Wang told Comrade Bo Xilai to pay attention and handle the case properly. Bo Xilai became very angry about Wang’s visit and decided to gather together government officials to have a meeting and propose Wang Lijun should be transferred under the pretext that he needs to get more training on his post.

On the afternoon of Feb. 1, Chongqing municipal government held its standing committee meeting and decided to remove Wang Lijun as the party secretary of the public security bureau. This decision was made without seeking approval of Ministry of Public Security in Beijing. ...

Under pressure from Bo Xilai’s family members and people around them, relevant organs have investigated the staff under Wang Lijun and other officers in charge of the important cases Wang Lijun brought up to Bo Xilai.

Wang Lijun thought his own safety was threatened and decided to leave (China). ... Wang entered the consulate and talked about potential collaboration with the Americian staff. He subsequently asked for asylum and filed a political asylum application according to U.S. regulations.

The party central believes the Wang Lijun incident is a very serious political incident that has brought negative impact domestically and internationally. Wang Lijun is directly responsible for this incident taking place. Bo Xilai, as party secretary, also assumes leading responsibility.


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-- Barbara Demick

a senior law enforcement official from Chongqing, China, delivers a speech during the 2nd International Forensic Science Meeting in Chongqing. Credit: Associated Press