Crime fighter is humbled after fall from power
Wang Lijun, the renowned triad-buster and former Chongqing police chief, appeared humbled and low-key in recent interviews with mainland media following his sudden fall from grace. It is in sharp contrast to his high-profile personality of recent years.
In probably his last interviews before his 'sick leave' - with the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly and the Chongqing Daily in the past week - and after it was announced that he had been stripped of his police chief duties and reassigned to a portfolio that included education and the environment, Wang came across as uncharacteristically meek.
'It is just a normal reshuffle,' Wang told the weekly, which wrote that he answered with a flat tone when referring to his new position.
When the weekly's reporter tried to confirm online speculation about the reasons for his job change, Wang simply laughed and asked, 'Where did you see those [online rumours]?'
He then said he was headed to a meeting, invited the reporter to visit Chongqing and hung up the phone, the weekly reported.
The report, which the publication posted on its website on Wednesday, was removed within hours, and a spokesman for the weekly could not be reached for comment.
In an interview with the same publication in February last year, Wang said that he did not find any weaknesses 'when dealing with criminal cases'.
'[But] we don't seem that mature in politics, which [we] should take time to learn about,' he said.
Wang, 53, once considered a close ally of Chongqing party head Bo Xilai , made his last public appearance on Sunday to visit Chongqing Normal University.
He told the Chongqing Daily that he 'took every new job as a new challenge and a learning opportunity'.
Wang became a well-known anti-triad hero in the 1990s due to his heavy-handed anti-crime activities in Tieling and Jinzhou of Liaoning province - Bo's power base.
Wang's anecdotes were turned into documentaries by many print media and television outlets in Liaoning and other provinces, using them as anti-corruption and anti-crime propaganda, while he played a leading role in the shows.
But he has not always been friendly with the media. In October 2010, he vowed to sue journalists and their employers if any 'fake' reports about Chongqing's anti-triad campaign were discovered, prompting a public outcry, with some mainland media outlets accusing him of abusing his power and violating the principles of procedural justice in the course of the anti-triad crackdown.
About five months later, on March 3 of last year, he defended his vow to go after journalists, when questioned by mainland media on the sidelines of the People's Congress of Chongqing, saying the threat of legal action was aimed at protecting police officers' human rights.
Referring to accusations that he had violated principles of civil law, he said, 'This is a misunderstanding [of my meaning]'.
'The general principles of our civil law note that all citizens have the right to protect their own interests, including our policemen, who are also citizens in our country, right?'