The downfall of a high-ranking official in a northeastern city was a precursor to the troubles of Wang Lijun, the vice-mayor of Chongqing who was removed earlier this month as the city's tough police chief, analysts said yesterday.
The city of Tieling, Liaoning province, was once the power base of Wang, the disgraced former ally of Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai. Wang's successor as police chief of Tieling, Gu Fengjie, was investigated for corruption last May and possibly jailed for 12 years, it emerged yesterday.
Bo was governor of Liaoning before he was promoted to party chief of Chongqing. Bo later brought Wang to the southwestern municipality to spearhead his anti-crime campaign.
Wang was rumoured last week to have sought asylum at the US consulate in Chengdu, Sichuan, after falling out with Bo. Washington and Beijing confirmed that Wang had stayed overnight at the consulate on Monday. Chongqing's municipal government said last Wednesday that Wang had been placed on 'stress leave', but sources say he was taken to Beijing by the Communist Party's disciplinary watchdog.
The events in Chongqing have placed the political career of Bo, tipped to be a top candidate to enter the Politburo Standing Committee this autumn, under a cloud.
The Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post reported yesterday that Gu, 58, was sacked in May and placed under investigation by party disciplinary authorities for corruption.
A Tieling city government spokesman confirmed Gu's dismissal yesterday but declined to give a reason. The Yuhong District People's Court in Shenyang, where Gu was rumoured to have been jailed for 12 years, said it had no record of his case.
Chen Ziming, an independent political analyst in Beijing, said the investigation of Gu was most likely instigated by highly placed political enemies of Bo and Wang.
'The investigation would have been quite impossible without an order from higher up,' Chen said.
Additional reporting by Laura Zhou