Wang affair delicate for White House

By David Usborne

The long tendrils of the mystery surrounding the death of Neil Heywood have reached all the way to the White House.

Details emerged yesterday of the diplomatic frenzy that ensued when Wang Lijun sought protection from a US consulate in Chengdu at the beginning of February.

The appearance at the consulate's gates of Wang bearing documents believed to have contained incriminating information about Bo Xilai, caught US diplomats by surprise.

During a frantic 36 hours, the New York Times reported, US officials in China, at the State Department in Washington and at the White House tried to decide what to do with him.

During all this time, the consulate was surrounded by throngs of security guards apparently deployed by Bo to take Wang into custody.

Instead, the US decided eventually to hand him over to Chinese authorities in Beijing, turning down his request that he be granted asylum.

Wang declined to hand over the documents about Bo to the US officials, but embarked on long rants about corruption.

If US officials have hitherto been coy about the incident, it is hardly surprising.

Washington has enough trouble handling its relationship with China without becoming embroiled in the Bo-Heywood affair.

Wang presented himself at the consulate just one week before a long-scheduled and delicate visit to the US by the likely future leader of China, Xi Jinping.

- Independent

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