The real Wang Lijun revealed in magazine exposé
Police chief, criminal, designer, calligrapher and fashionista - it may come as a surprise that the man who encompasses all of those things is China's most infamous former cop, Wang Lijun.
What was the real story of Chongqing's powerful yet mysterious "super cop"? A 40-page in-depth story published in China’s Southern Metropolis Weekly magazine reveals a shocking picture of Wang's private and work life.
Wang, the former vice-mayor and police chief of Chongqing when Bo Xilai was Communist Party secretary, blew the whistle on the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in September 2012.
He was convicted of attempting to cover up the crime, defection, illegal wiretapping and corruption. Wang became associated with Bo while Bo served as governor of Liaoning province, and followed him to Chongqing.
Here are some of the most interesting discoveries from the magazine's investigation.
Wang Lijun the PR guru
Wang paid great attention to his public image. He employed a personal PR team of more than 20 police officers. All dressed in blue uniforms, they were nicknamed the “Smurfs”.
The Smurfs were responsible for chronicling Wang’s daily life via audio and video recording or transcripts, especially of his public speeches. Wang also personally selected the photos of himself and signed them for media use by the end of the day.
Wang read and edited any news article that was about him before the story was sent to press, a common practise in China among officials. He also required news stories to cover all the "key words" from his speeches and reach a certain “theoretical height”.
The Smurfs were also responsible for producing a photo album of Wang every month. His speeches, meanwhile, were compiled in a book weighing 2kg. The book was circulated inside the police department of Chongqing.
When it came to the internet, Wang was a Luddite and asked the Smurfs to print out everything he needed to read.
Wang enjoyed seeing himself on television, according to Southern Metropolis Weekly. Zhou Lijun, a screenwriter, spent 10 days with Wang in Tieling in 1996 while working on a screenplay for a TV series about his exploits called “Iron Blooded Police Spirits”. Sources say Wang even wanted to play the lead role in the series, but the idea was not well-received.
The dramatic 'gun battle' in a cave
Wang had a taste for drama, and in 2008, he created one that earned him high-profile media exposure on CCTV.
That year he waged a battle against gun proliferation before his successful campaign against Chongqing mafias.
Wang “invited” underground gun-makers to resume production by supplying them with equipment, funding and a place to work - a big cave in a remote town named Xiushan, bordering Guizhou province. The invitation worked and Wang's entrapment plot proceeded as planned.
In September of 2008, Wang led thousands of special force police officers with submachine guns and bazookas to the cave. He flirted with the idea of shooting a bazooka, but another high-ranking official turned down the suggestion. Instead, they used dynamite to blow up the gun operation and destroy the cave.
When the police retreated from the cave, Wang’s spectacular motorcade of armoured police vehicles drove through Xiushan’s downtown area, leaving locals in awe.
“I have watched the [People's] Liberation Army entering our town twice,” said a resident. “The first time was in 1949, and this is the second time.”
The operation seized 183 illegal guns, according to the Chongqing police.
Dressing up his officers
Wang required his policemen to display “good taste” by the way they dress. During his term, he ordered that two sets of casual-style police uniforms, costing 8,000 yuan (HK$9,932) in total, be made for each police officer in Chongqing.
Wang personally oversaw the design of the uniforms of female police officers.
“The initial design of the pants was not reasonable,” he commented in a meeting with the policewomen. “From a medical perspective, I found that [the design] was not right.”
Brutal techniques used to torture the 'mafia'
Wang took pride in his famous crackdowns on “criminal gangs” in Chongqing, most of whom were successful private business owners. He was known to order the torture of suspects with brutal and illegal techniques, which have been revealed in detail.
Businessmen Gong Gangmo, a convicted mafia boss who was arrested by Wang in 2009, said he was hung by his hands for eight days in a detention centre and beaten by the police. He said the police had covered the camera with a curtain so it could not be recorded.
Fan Qihang, another convicted mafia boss, accused the police of torturing him almost every day for six months. Fan said he was beaten, deprived of sleep and placed in stress positions for long periods of time. He had tried unsuccessfully to kill himself and bite off his own tongue.
Fan had already been convicted and sentenced to death following his arrest in June 2009.
The most versatile cop in China
Wang also claimed to be an expert in arts and architecture. He is the owner of 150 patents and had designed police uniforms, police boots and police raincoats, among other creations.
Media reports said he studied Eastern philosophies as well as Plato and Aristotle. By 2012, Wang had become a guest professor in 29 universities both home and abroad. His official resume shows he has two MBA degrees from Dongbei University of Finance and Economics in Dalian and from the California State University in the US.