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Chongqing's deputy mayor is said to be on a, "therapeutic leave," amid rumors he tried to flee to a US consulate and request asylum. The deputy mayor was a close ally of Chongqing's Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai. And his situation may hurt Bo's political ambitions.
Chinese Communist Party Secretary of Chongqing Bo Xilai has been thrust into a political storm as his deputy mayor, Wang Lijun, is on what Party officials are describing as "therapeutic" leave.
"This morning at around 10:50 (0250 GMT), the Chongqing information office announced on its microblog that Deputy Mayor Wang Lijun, who has suffered overwork and immense mental stress for a long time, is seriously indisposed physically. He is currently undergoing a vacation-style treatment."
This leave has suspicious timing, seeing as it was announced amid rumors of infighting and unconfirmed reports that Wang fled to the US consulate in Chengdu, a city several hours from Chongqing, in an attempt to seek asylum. Wang, who is also the police chief of Chongqing, is thought to have gone to the consulate on the evening of February 6th. The building was then surrounded by police for 24 hours until the early morning of February 8th, when it is thought the consulate turned him in to Chinese authorities.
Spokesperson for the US Embassy in Beijing, Richard Buangan, told Reuters news agency that he was "not in a position to comment regarding reported requests for asylum," but said that the extra security presence was not requested by the consulate in Chengdu. Chinese authorities were also quiet about the incident, with a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson claiming he had no information on the issue.
[Liu Weimin, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson]:
"I have no information to provide."