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Chinese politician said to have been fired after interfering in investigation into relative
BEIJING (AP) ' A leaked transcript on China's biggest political scandal in years claims that one of the country's most high-profile politicians interfered in an investigation involving a family member before he was fired last week.
While few details have been released, Bo Xilai's removal on as Communist Party boss of Chongqing city appears to have brought a screeching stop to the career of one of the country's most ambitious politicians.
He was dismissed Thursday as part of an investigation into Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun's flight to a U.S. Consulate in what the reported comments said was a panicky attempt to gain political asylum. Wang has been placed under custody and his actions denounced as a serious breach of discipline.
Little had been known publicly about what prompted Wang's asylum attempt, or the nature of the rift in his once-close relationship with Bo, who hand-picked him to lead the Chongqing force and carry out a wide-ranging crackdown on organized crime.
However, a transcript of remarks by an unnamed official from the Communist Party's General Office that have circulated on the Internet say that Bo tried to sideline Wang in late January after Wang informed him of an investigation into one of Bo's relatives. The relative was not identified. As the offspring of one of communist China's founding fathers, Bo and his family enjoy considerable influence.
The General Office remarks, said to have been delivered orally to leading officials last week, were released Tuesday mostly on websites outside China, including the usually reliable dwnews.com and Boxun.com
The remarks said that Bo was "displeased" with Wang because of the investigation, and transferred him to a post overseeing education, science and other less sensitive matters in violation of a rule requiring him to first notify the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing.
Fearing for his safety, Wang entered the U.S. Consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu on Feb. 6 and submitted a written request for asylum, according to the remarks. Wang left of his own accord one day later and was flown to Beijing for questioning by the Ministry of State Security. He has not been heard from since.
Chinese officials have slammed the consulate visit a serious breach of protocol. U.S. diplomats have refused to discuss what took place during Wang's visit.
Government and party spokesmen in Beijing and Chongqing did not immediately respond to faxed requests to verify the authenticity of the leaked transcript.
In a sign of the sensitivity of the matter, search requests for Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun were blocked on the Internet inside China, which is strictly monitored by government censors. In some cases, people have gotten around the blocks and posted the reports on social media sites.
Bo, 62, had been considered a leading candidate for the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee when new members are chosen this fall.
A former commerce minister and head of industrial Liaoning province, Bo remains on the party's 25-member Politburo and his ultimate fate remains unknown. While the transcript did not indicate he was charged with any crimes, it said that, as Chongqing's top official, Bo had "main leadership responsibility" for the Wang affair.
"Once this issue has been thoroughly and clearly investigated, there will again be a final conclusion and the taking of appropriate action," it said.
Throughout his career, Bo showed a flair for publicity, and alongside his well-publicized clampdown on gangsters, won countrywide notoriety for enthusiastically promoting the revival of Cultural Revolution era songs and stories. That made him a darling of the country's remaining Maoists but also drew criticism for glorifying the memory of one of the most violent and chaotic periods in modern Chinese history.
Bo's removal brought an immediate curtailing of that campaign, with notices posted in the city saying such sing-alongs were being canceled to preserve quiet and public order. Access was also blocked Tuesday to some neo-leftist websites that had praised Bo's "Red Culture" campaign.