Wang’s Feb. 6 trip to the U.S. Consulate eventually toppled his boss, Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai, the son of a Mao-era revolutionary hero who had been widely touted for promotion to a senior job in a leadership reshuffle at a party congress later this year. Bo was ousted from the party’s ruling Politburo and its Central Committee after Wang revealed that Bo’s wife was involved in the poisoning death last year of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.
The scandal not only sidelined Bo — one of China’s most popular and charismatic leaders — but it exposed a web of corruption, power and privilege at the highest levels of politics. Bo’s removal seemed to upset the party’s carefully choreographed transition to the next generation of leaders, with continued factional infighting delaying even the announcement of a date for the upcoming party meeting. Wang’s case also provoked some criticism of the Obama administration, with political opponents charging that the United States should have granted the police chief asylum.
In many ways, Wang has been reduced to a bit player in the ongoing drama — the man who single-handedly sparked the scandal and brought down Bo, but whose own role and fate have become an afterthought.
Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, confessed last month to poisoning Heywood in a business dispute involving her son. Bo has not been heard from in months, as he awaits his fate.
Wang also had not been seen or heard from publicly since he was escorted by Chinese security agents to Beijing from the U.S. Consulate. In footage shown Tuesday on state-run China Central Television, he looked relaxed in a white open-
collared shirt and with his trademark dark-rimmed eyeglasses.
Wang’s wife, daughter and younger brother listened to the court proceedings Tuesday, said Wang Yuncai, a defense lawyer, who is not related to the former police chief.
“After the court this afternoon, the family and I met Wang Lijun for about 20 minutes together,” the lawyer said. “They didn’t talk much about the case and aren’t allowed to,” she added. “The family hadn’t seen him for a long time.”
The proceeding, at Chengdu Intermediate Court, was closed to foreign reporters. But in a statement read aloud at a hotel afterward, court spokesman Yang Yuquan said: “The accused Wang Lijun voluntarily gave himself up after committing the crime of defection, and then gave a truthful account of the main crimes involved in his defection.”