A Chinese police chief who crusaded against gangs has dropped out of a sight and may be seeking asylum in the U.S., reports the Associated Press. Wang Lijun, who made his name busting crime gangs and inspired a drama on state TV, has taken leave to recover from anxiety and overwork, the city government of Chongqing said in a statement Wednesday. Wang was shifted out of his role as police chief last week, prompting speculation of a falling-out with the city’s powerful Communist Party secretary, Box Xilai, who is widely believed to be seeking national office.
The police chief may have fallen out of favor because his 2008-2010 crackdown on criminal gangs strayed from standard procedures and clashed with the central government’s current campaign to strengthen the rule of law, Beijing-based political analyst Li Fan said. Days of speculation about his situation spiked Wednesday with online reports that he sought asylum at the American consulate in the nearby southwestern city of Chengdu on Tuesday after quarelling with Bo. U.S. State Department spokeswoman confirmed that Wang met at the consulate and later left “of his own volition.” She declined to comment on whether he had sought refugee status or asylum.