When Wang Lijun made his break for the US consulate in Chengdu on the night of February 6th, he was in a unique position to reveal a series of damaging stories about his superior, Bo Xilai: Bo’s familial connection to the suspected murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, siphoning of Chongqing’s public funds, and shakedowns of local criminal and triad elements. As former head of the Chongqing Public Security Bureau, Wang also knew that Bo, as Chongqing party secretary, had engaged in surveillance of Politburo members, potentially implying that Bo and other players aligned with Jiang Zemin’s faction—most prominently, Zhou Yongkang, secretary of the powerful Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC)—were thinking about seizing power. Faced with the complexity of China’s leadership transition crisis, most Western editors played up the Sopranos
aspect of the sordid tale, fixing on the alleged Heywood murder, essentially the same interpretation being relentlessly pushed by the Chinese Communist Party–controlled media, and allowed an even more sinister story to slip by virtually unnoticed. On March 23rd, China’s vice minister of health, Huang Jiefu, publicly declared the country’s intention to end “organ donations” from executed prisoners. Yet the euphemism didn’t conceal the reality, for on the night of February 6th, Wang was in a unique position to reveal one more story—specifically, how the party has been harvesting the organs of their political enemies for years.