Published June 30, 2012
| Associated Press
BEIJING – An ex-police chief whose shocking visit to a U.S. consulate led to the fall of a prominent Chinese politician has resigned from the national legislature, state media reported Saturday, a sign that he might be a step closer to formal arrest and trial.
Wang Lijun, the former police chief of south China's Chongqing metropolis, asked to resign from the National People's Congress, and the standing committee of the Chongqing People's Congress accepted his resignation Tuesday, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Wang has been under investigation since he visited the U.S. Consulate in nearby Chengdu city in February. He is thought to have divulged information unfavorable to Bo Xilai, then Chongqing's party chief.
It is unclear what charges Wang could face. He might be charged with treason if he divulged information on top-level Chinese officials to the Americans. Treason carries a maximum penalty of death, although Wang is expected to receive leniency for providing evidence against Bo and his wife. Bo was sacked from his job and is being investigated for unspecified violations. His wife, Gu Kailai, is a suspect in the death of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.
Wang, once a close ally of Bo, is believed to have had a falling out with his boss over the investigation into Heywood's death.
Wang's visit to the U.S. Consulate led to the public airing of some lurid details involving high officials that Beijing may have found embarrassing and would have preferred to address behind closed doors.
As a member of the Communist Party's Politburo, Bo was a likely candidate for one of the nine seats on its all-powerful Standing Committee when a new generation of leaders is named later this year. His downfall sent shockwaves through the party and Chinese society, prompting rumors of divisions within the leadership and even a possible coup attempt.
Delegates to the national legislature have special privileges, including immunity from arrest and trial unless there is special approval.