Wang Lijun

David Pilling

A pro-democracy protester holds a placard with picture of blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng outside China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo AP

First Wang Lijun. Now Chen Guangcheng. If anybody else sneaks into a US diplomatic mission in China we might really have a story on our hands.

The events that have electrified China over the past few months come safely under the category of things you couldn’t make up. In February, Mr Wang, chief of police of Bo Xilai, China’s most charismatic politician, turned up in the US consulate in Chengdu. He brought with him piles of documents, including what is said to be evidence of the murder of a British businessman, allegedly by Mr Bo’s wife. Read more

Bo Xilai with his wife Gu Kailai

Not so long ago, Bo Xilai was one of China’s “princelings”, a charismatic, high-flying politician who was apparently destined for its top leadership. From his power base in Chongqing he became known for smashing organised crime, increasing foreign investment and running “revolutionary” campaigns involving singing contests and the revival of Maoist symbols.

But when in February a mafia-busting former police chief called Wang Lijun walked into the US consulate in the western city of Chengdu, he set in train a series of events that brought scandal and infighting out of the secret confines of Chinese party politics and into the public eye. The result was Mr Bo’s spectacular fall from grace and the arrest of his wife Gu Kailai – herself the daughter of a top general – on suspicion of murdering the British citizen Neil Heywood. Read more