Chinese Communist "princeling" Bo Xilai, expected by many to take a key leadership position in the leadership transition of 2012, was expelled from the Communist Party in September after a career that saw him as Mayor of Dalian City, Minister of Commerce and Party Chief of the Chongqing municipality. His wife Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence in August 2012 for murdering British business partner Neil Heywood.
Wang Lijun says Bo Xilai's 'slap' was a punch
Wang Lijun – Bo Xilai’s ally turned nemesis – also gave his account of his confrontation with Bo and his dramatic flight to the American consulate in Chengdu. This version is edited and condensed:
“I’m not just a witness; I’m a victim of Bo Xilai’s case.
“On January 28 at 1700 [hours], I went to the 1st block [ Bo’s office]. I said clearly to him that Neil [Heywood] was murdered by Gu Kailai . I told him in great detail of how [Gu] went in [Heywood’s room] and how [she] poured the poison. I told him that he could ask [his] butler Zhang Xiaojun because he was present too. Bo then asked me: ‘Is it really the lawyer who did it? He was referring to his wife. I said: ‘Yes, it was her and she had confessed [to me]’. I told him to question Zhang. I believed Xiaojun would not lie to Bo.
“He then said he needed to take a walk. He went out for about 40 minutes. Then he went back home. This [meeting] was on January 28 when he returned from Beijing to Chongqing . He [even] said ‘thank you’ to me that night.
“On January 29, which was the first working day after the Lunar New Year, I received a call from the general office of the Chongqing city government at 9.30 and [they] told me to go to Bo’s office. I knew it would get ugly. I found Guo Weiguo and Wu [no given name provided] were also there. They went in hiding once I arrived.
“Bo came out and he started to yell at me. He lost all of his manners. After about three minutes, he went about from the left-hand side of his table and approached me. He suddenly threw a punch and hit my left ear. It was not a slap. My whole body shook a bit. He then retreated to his table. I found the corner of my mouth was bleeding and fluids coming out of my ear. I used the tissue paper on the table to clean the blood. He saw I did not lose my cool. He picked up his mug and smashed it on the floor and said ‘this is totally unacceptable’. Then he wanted to use violence [on me] again. Wu got in between us and separated him from me. This was what happened on January 29.
“My guess was that he did it to show that he would not accept [my version of events] and wanted me to take my words back and close the case. It was also a show intended for Guo and to threaten him. Guo was wavering. I told Guo that Gu did it [murdered Heywood].
“He [Bo] then verbally abused me for another minute or two. The whole thing lasted for about half an hour. I saw that he had started to calm down. I said: ‘Secretary Xilai, please calm down.’ He said: ‘Okay’. I said: ‘Could we take a walk outside together?’ He agreed.”
Wang was asked whether any investigators resigned over the case.
“Yes. I told Bo this thing was going to become huge. The lawyer [Gu] had contacted many people. Some were scared and resigned. Bo said: ‘Good, let them go.’ Guo Weiguo handed in two resignation letters on two occasions, saying that his health was not good. Wang Zhi , Wang Pengfei and Li Yang all resigned. They were put under questioning for a month and were told to shut up.
“In the afternoon of January 29, I called Guo, Wang Pengfei and Li Yang to a meeting and told them to open a case on the murder carried out by Gu Kailai. Afterwards, I asked Guo why he didn’t open a case. He gave me an evasive answer. Wang Zhi and Wang Pengfei were illegally detained. On February 6, Wang Zhi was summoned to Bo’s home. Guo and others were also there. They tried to persuade Wang Zhi and said: ‘You could not hope to stand against such powerful force.’ This was the direct quote I got from Wang Zhi. They forced Wang Zhi to write that Gu did not kill people. He later came to me and told me this.”
Prosecutors asked about Wang’s circumstances when he fled to the American consulate.
“It was very dangerous for me at the time. First, I was treated with violence. Then, people who worked for me and the investigators on the case all disappeared.”