Wang Lijun. File photo: Milit.com
An official renowned for his crackdown on organized crime in Chong-qing is receiving "vacation-style treatment" for stress, the local government said Wednesday.
Famed for spearheading a campaign against gangsters in the southwestern city of Chongqing, Wang Lijun, vice mayor and former police chief, was reportedly taking leave after rumors of his visit to the US consulate in Chengdu began circulating.
"According to related information, due to long-term overwork, immense mental stress and physical exhaustion, Vice Mayor Wang Lijun is currently receiving a vacation-style treatment following approval," the press office for the Chongqing municipal government said on its official microblog Wednesday.
This information was forwarded more than 30,000 times within an hour.
Microbloggers began posting pictures of security personnel surrounding the US consulate in Chengdu since early morning Wednesday, and some posted that Wang was involved in this scenario, a claim not confirmed by anyone.
In an e-mail to the Global Times Wednesday, Richard Buangan, spokesperson for the US embassy in Beijing, said, "We are not in a position to comment on issues regarding reported requests for asylum."
However, Buangan replied to Reuters, "I can tell you there was no threat to the (Chengdu) consulate Wednesday, and the US government did not request increased security around the compound."
A senior police officer with the Chongqing public security bureau told Southern Weekly that Wang is receiving treatment at hospital due to major depression, and the officer noted that it was widely known among police officers in the city.
The intrigue began last week when the Chongqing municipal government announced that Wang would no longer be the city's public security bureau chief, but would keep his post as a deputy mayor overseeing education, science and environmental protection.
Wang had served in the police since 1984, first in the cities of Tieling and Jinzhou in Northeast China's Liaoning Province before he was transferred to Chongqing's public security bureau in June 2008.
He was hailed as a hero following the anti-gangster campaign that hit hard on organized crime and resurrected the image of local police after toppling dozens of high-ranking police officers, including former city deputy police chief Wen Qiang.
He was elected deputy major in May 2011 while still serving as the chief of the Chongqing public security bureau.
After being assigned a new job as a deputy mayor, Wang visited the educational authority and Chongqing Normal University on Sunday, local media reported.
After visiting the campus of the university, Wang said each area will be a new challenge for him and a new chance to learn, according to the Chongqing Daily.
Xu Tianran and Yang Jingjie contributed to this story