High-flying leader skips China meet

A high-flying Chinese politician dogged by a scandal involving a subordinate possibly seeking asylum in the United States has missed an important session of the national legislature, raising speculation about new setbacks to his political ambitions.

Chongqing city boss Bo Xilai was the only one of the 25 members of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo not at today’s meeting of the National People’s Congress.

The body is holding its annual 10-day session in Beijing this month.
Bo’s political future has been under question since Wang Lijun, Chongqing’s ex-police chief and Bo’s former right-hand man, was believed to have unsuccessfully sought political asylum last month at the US consulate in Chengdu.

Wang has since been taken into custody by investigators, and Bo attended NPC’s opening on Monday and was present at its Wednesday session.

An NPC spokesman said he had no information about Bo’s highly unusual absence.
Bo, Chongqing’s Communist Party secretary and top official, was thought to have a strong chance of being named to the Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee later this year before Wang’s scandal broke.

Bo had entrusted Wang with carrying out a high-profile crackdown on Chongqing’s organised crime syndicates and their police protectors, a campaign that later fell under criticism for its alleged use of torture and other violations.

Chongqing officials have said Wang was suffering from stress and was undergoing therapy.

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