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WLJ in First Class Flight -- Feb 2012

(2013-03-26 13:03:53)
Wire: Bloomberg News (BN) Date: Feb 11 2012  17:31:20
Wang May Have Flown to Beijing After U.S. Consulate Visit 

By Bloomberg News
     Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- A deputy Chinese mayor, whose stay
at a U.S. consulate spurred speculation of a shakeup in China’s
leadership, may have flown first-class to Beijing with a vice
state security minister a day after meeting American diplomats.
     A seat was purchased for Wang Lijun on a Feb. 8 flight from
Chengdu to Beijing, according to a website authorized by China’s
aviation regulator to show all commercial air ticket
information. Another first-class ticket was bought for Qiu Jin,
a vice minister at the agency responsible for anti-espionage and
covert operations to ensure state security.
     Wang, 52, oversaw a crackdown on gangs in the southwestern
city of Chongqing that raised the profile of his patron,
Chongqing Communist Party Chief Bo Xilai. Wang’s visit to the
consulate, which sparked speculation he was seeking refuge
there, was confirmed by Chinese and U.S. officials. It comes as
Bo bids for a spot on China’s highest decision-making body ahead
of a leadership change this year. Moving Wang to Beijing shows
the seriousness of the case, said Li Cheng of Washington’s
Brookings Institution.
     “This means that the top leadership is directly involved
in this investigation,” Li, who analyzes Chinese elite
politics, said in an e-mail. “The incident is extremely serious
and we probably only see the tip of the iceberg.”

                         Harper Meeting

     Bo, 62, is scheduled to meet Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper in Chongqing today. Bo is a member of the 25-
person Politburo and the son of one of the founders of the
People’s Republic of China. Li and other analysts of China’s
leadership said Bo was a candidate for inclusion in the elite
Politburo Standing Committee, now with nine members.
     The fact that his former police chief sparked an
international incident with his trip to the Chengdu consulate
may have ended Bo’s career rise, said Willy Wo-Lap Lam, an
adjunct professor of Chinese history at the Chinese University
of Hong Kong.
     “Bo’s chance of making the Politburo Standing Committee is
finished,” Lam said in an e-mail. “When they do the horse-
trading in Beijing, his enemies will definitely use this to
shoot down his candidacy.”
     Zhou Bo, an official with the Chongqing municipal
government’s news office, didn’t immediately answer calls
yesterday. A newspaper based in Yunnan reported yesterday that
Bo Xilai led a delegation to the southwestern province on a two
day trip that ended Feb. 9.

                   ‘Vacation-Style’ Treatment

     Wang was suffering from “immense mental stress and serious
physical discomfort” and was put on “vacation-style
treatment,” the Chongqing government’s information office said
Feb. 8 after Wang met with U.S. diplomats. His case is now the
subject of a government probe, the official Xinhua News Agency
said Feb. 9.
     A first-class ticket was purchased for Wang on Air China
Ltd. flight CA4113, according to a receipt on travelsky.com. The
site is authorized by the Civil Aviation Administration of China
as a way to verify the authenticity of electronic airline
tickets.
     A national identity card number on the receipt matches that
of the deputy mayor.
     Another receipt on travelsky.com showed the purchase of a
first-class ticket on the same flight for a 57-year-old man
named Qiu Jin. The identity of the man from the receipt matches
that of the vice state security minister of the same name, who’s
also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative
Conference.

                        No Public Website

     The Ministry of State Security doesn’t have a public
website and only the name of its minister is listed. A profile
of Qiu on the CPPCC’s website identifies him as a vice state
security minister without saying how long he’s served.
     Calls to the state security ministry’s offices in Beijing
went unanswered yesterday. Air China company secretary Rao Xinyu
said she couldn’t comment.
     A photograph of an electronic air ticketing screen that
shows Wang and Qiu as passengers of flight CA4113 began
circulating on Chinese websites late Feb. 9.
     Richard Buangan, a spokesman for the American Embassy in
Beijing, wouldn’t comment on the reason for Wang’s visit to the
Chengdu consulate. Wang left the consulate of his own volition,
Buanguan said, declining to comment on reports of a heavy police
presence outside the post.
     Wang’s and Qiu’s IDs from the receipts were checked on
ID5.cn, an identity verification website where users can call up
an individual’s photograph by providing a name and
identification number. The site’s operator, Beijing
Guozhengtong, provides this service through a partnership with
the Ministry of Public Security, Xinhua reported in 2008.
     On Feb. 2, the Chongqing government said Wang had been
relieved of his police duties and put in charge of areas
including sanitation, athletics and education.

--Wenxin Fan and Michael Forsythe, with assistance from Chua
Baizhen, Henry Sanderson and Nicholas Wadhams in Beijing.

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