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China's Bo Xilai affair: where the case stands

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The case began to crack open Feb. 7, when photographs appeared on Weibo (China's version of Twitter) showing an unusual congregation of police outside the US Consulate in Chengdu, 170 miles from Chongqing. Two days later, another blogger posted the passenger manifest of a flight from Chengdu to Beijing showing that Bo's right-hand man, Wang Lijun, had taken that flight in the company of a vice minister of security.

Mr. Wang, it transpired, had fled to the US consulate, apparently seeking asylum, but left of his own accord when he was sure that regional police loyal to Bo wouldn't take him into custody.

Wang was almost certainly not going to be given asylum by the United States. He had been the chief of police in Chongqing during Bo's noisy antimafia campaign, which critics and victims complained had relied heavily on torture. But before handing himself over to the Chinese security chief and disappearing into an interrogation room somewhere, Wang showed US diplomats a police file suggesting that Ms. Gu had been involved in Heywood's murder.

Why would Wang have betrayed his mentor? A few days earlier they had had a falling out; Bo had fired Wang as police chief and demoted him to an innocuous municipal job. According to people familiar with the reopened police investigation into Heywood's death, Bo did so after Wang had shown him the evidence of his wife's involvement.

Why Wang even brought up the matter with his boss, when it had until then caused no waves, is unclear. But Bo's reaction seems to have made Wang fear for his life and seek protection.

It was not long before the official Xinhua news agency announced that Bo had been removed from his post as head of the Chongqing Communist Party committee.But a month passed before he was fired from its elite 25-member Politburo, suggesting fierce debate over his fate.

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