By Michael Evans.
As China begins to publically dismantle the legacy of Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun’s tenure in Chongqing, the media has slowly begun to dismantle the reputations of the fallen leaders as well.
Last week, several Chinese newspapers including Guangzhou’s influential Southern Weekend and Nanjing’s Modern Express published an article giving an inside look at Wang Lijun’s inner circle, revealing the petty faults and pedantic obsessions of the now-disgraced police chief.
A summary by Danwei takes a look at some of the highlights:
[Wang] claimed to have registered a number of patents and to have personally designed the police uniform in Chongqing. He himself was apparently usually dressed in a wind-breaker, and always surrounded himself with a troupe of “tall and straight” guards, among which were included two people to constantly watch the movement of his shoulders.
Wang could be very demanding in terms of food and clothing, requiring that his staff maintain a faultless attire at all times. Once in a hallway when he ran into one his male attendants wearing a suit without a tie, Wang berated him and wanted to punish him severely, only relenting after various pleas for clemency.
A similar December 5 expose in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post last week cited “police and government sources” who paint a picture of Wang as “wild, self-centred and highly particular about appearances.”
Last year he ordered staff in the municipal police bureau to attend a concert by the folk singer Song Zuying and bought them matching 5,500 yuan (HK$6,800) suits for the occasion.
“It is an open secret within the Chongqing police that only Wang was allowed to wear suits of a specific light-grey colour, which he believed was more elegant than other colours,” a police officer said.
Zhou Lijun, a screenwriter, spent 10 days with Wang in Tieling in 1996 while working on a screenplay for a TV series about his exploits called “Iron Blooded Police Spirits”.
According to Zhou’s account in a Chinese newspaper, Wang had a flair for the dramatic. He would drive to crime scenes in a Mitsubishi jeep modified to carry a double rack of lights on its roof so the locals would know “Chief Wang” was on the case.
Wang would turn up at police stations deep in the night to catch officers sleeping, bawl them out and then storm out, said a Chinese businessman who met Wang several times at city functions.
He also demanded continuous supplies of fresh flowers and towels, said another source with access to city officials.
A former colleague of Wang’s in northeast China said he would sometimes perform the autopsies on executed convicts himself because he claimed he wanted to see if “their hearts were black or red.”
Airing the very personal dirty laundry of disgraced leaders has a long history in China, so it should come to no surprise that the state-run media now seeks to tarnish not only Wang Lijun’s track record in office, but also Wang himself.
The only question is when the spotlight will fully turn on Bo Xilai and his “improper sexual relations”.