Speculation rampant on Wang's consulate visit
What was Chongqing's vice-mayor Wang Lijun doing during the long hours he spent in the US consulate in Chengdu on Monday and Tuesday?
That is one of the many questions raised after Beijing confirmed that Wang, once a close ally of Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, had spent a day in the consulate. There is also intense speculation about Wang's motive and the circumstances under which he left the consulate.
An English statement released on Thursday by the Foreign Ministry spokesman's office said Wang 'left after staying there for one day', but the Chinese version said he 'left after being stranded there for one day'.
Johnny Lau Yui-sui, a political commentator, said: 'The English version is for foreigners and the Chinese one is for local people. The mainland government was trying to emphasise that Wang was forced to stay in the consulate - not on his own volition.'
The US State Department confirmed on Thursday that Wang 'did visit the consulate and he later left the consulate of his own volition'. It also said Wang had requested a meeting in his capacity as a vice-mayor.
Both the Chinese and US governments gave no details on Wang's visit.
'There is no information regarding his stay,' a spokeswoman from the consulate in Chengdu said.
Wu Si , the author of Hidden Rules, a book about political games played by Chinese officials, said: 'If someone realises that his life is in danger, he will protect himself by making his opponents believe he has something on them. After the person finds no one in the country that he can trust to share his secrets, he will look for help from foreign diplomatic compounds if he is imaginative.'
Zhang Lifan, a historian, said: 'It's not important whether Wang left any classified information or document in the consulate. It's important that he walked into the compound and he left. What he did left a message to his opponents that probably could make him safe.'
Analysts said it was in the US' best interests to give Wang back to the Chinese government.
Zhang said Wang's stay was like placing a 'time bomb' in China's political circles.
Lau said a person could share plenty of stories in one day. 'The US wouldn't ruin the relationship with China after getting most of the information it needed, especially before Vice-President Xi Jinping's visit next week'.
He said the US had abandoned Wang 'like a pair of useless shoes'.
Zhang said Wang was a nobody in the bureaucratic system before his move to Chongqing. 'He was from a small place and worked hard, but he had no political background or political struggle experience,' he said. 'He's smart but has very little political wisdom.'
Wang served in the police force in small cities in Liaoning province for more than 20 years before Bo moved him to Chongqing as police chief.
'Wang followed the wrong boss in the wrong place at the wrong time,' Zhang said. 'If he'd stayed in Liaoning, he probably could retire in peace. He's like a moth to a flame. He couldn't control his own destiny.'
The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said Wang flew to Beijing in the custody of eight senior officials from the Ministry of State Security on Wednesday.