From Wang Lijun Incident to the Analysis of Identities of Consulates and Concessions.

Chengdu, China

February 6, 2012

Ran Mei and Wei Huaye

On the evening of February 6, 2012, the police chief and a vise major of Chongqing, Wang Lijun turned up at the American Consulate in Chengdu in an agitated state, telling a tale of corruption and murder that involves one of the most elite political figures in China. Bo Xilai, Chongqing’s Communist Party boss, was once seen as a high-flyer tipped for top office.  As the direct superior of Mr. Wang, Bo had commanded Wang to fight crimes and black society with either legal or illegal means. Done his job well, Wang earned a reputation as the “hero gang buster” of China, but also drawn unwanted attentions from the media and the black society. After the investigation of the death of a British businessman Neil Heywood, who is also a close friend to Bo and his family, Mr. Wang visited the U.S. consulate and sought for asylum instead of telling the truth to the Chinese press or following the legislation process

history 1 For China, it is embarrassing that some choose to flee to the US embassy or consulate when an incident is disclosed, especially when it involves the internal affairs of the Communist Party. In early March 2012, party general secretary Hu Jintao reportedly denounced Wang as a traitor to the Communist Party and the nation in the Party’s internal conference. The government later publicly described Wang’s decision to seek refuge in an American consulate as “serious political incident.” According to Xinhua, the official press agency of China, the incident showed that “the US embassy or consulates in China are not places of asylum for Chinese officials who have violated the law.”

However, Wang’s unauthorized and “treasonous” visit to the US consulate did keep his life unharmed. According to Global Times, after Wang entered the consulate he told the American ambassador that he “had received a threat to his personal safety as a result of investigating a case.”  Taking the risk of being accused of defection, Wang believed that his strategy was the only way to secure his safety.

Mr. Wang stayed until he could arrange for an official meeting from a Beijing ministry to come 36 hours later and escort him past the local security cordon. Wang has been put in custody by the national security force and facing the charges of defection and abuse of power. Wang’s incident drew attention from the public as well as the central government and led to an overall investigation of Bo and the murder case. As a result, Bo went on trial on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power as well as interference with the investigation into his wife’s murder of Neil Heywood.

iXpw7yDAlP7kThe incident not only intrigued questions from the public about the Chinese political party, but also intrigued us to ask the identity of a foreign property in a country— the US consulate, in this case.The property rights enable the Americans to occupy the building locates in a piece of land that is owned by the Chinese government. The US government owns the consulate; hence it has the right to use the space under its own law. Therefore, whatever happens within the consulate is the internal affair of the US government. No other country has the right to interfere. On diplomatic area, the term “extraterritoriality” is used to describe “the state of being exempted from the jurisdiction of local law”. With the privilege of the diplomatic building from the local law, no matter how many local polices were surrounding the building, the consulate is unapproachable. Not until his personal safety is promised by the power he was looking for, Wang exposed himself to the public sight. The US consulate here serves as an asylum.

Victory-Parade-AThe US consulate is, in some sense, a concession, which is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the right to use land or other property for a specified purpose, granted by a government, company, or other controlling body.” Like the US consulate served as an asylum for Mr. Wang, concessions have been used as asylums through history.During World War 2, the Republic Chinese army was defeated by the Empire Japanese army at the end of “the Siege of Shanghai”; 400 Chinese soldiers were surrounded in a warehouse. These soldiers retreated to the British concession in the occupied Shanghai after four days fighting and stayed until Japanese declared war against British. The British concession protected the Chinese from been harmed by the Japanese in the land of China.

In these two cases above, the local lands controlled by foreign governments served as sanctuaries. But in some cases, it is rather embarrassing. The city of Rome was the very center of the glorious Roman Republic as well as the proud of the Italian states. When the Papal State declared its ownership over this land, it became the center of the whole Catholic world until Rome was occupied by Kingdom of Italy in 1870 and restored as the capital of the Italy.


The occupation of Rome in fact annexed the Papal State as well as deprived the ownership from the Pope. So although the Pope still owns the Basilica di San Pietro as well as some other buildings, the Papal State no longer existed. Disappointed about what was happening during the occupation, the Popes began to call themselves the prisoner of Vatican since they refused to move away from their properties. They even gave a name for this embarrassing paradox called La Questione Romana (“The Question of Rome”) to summarize the difficulties to define the land of Vatican. This problem was solved in February 11. 1929 with the sign of Lateran Treaty between the Pope and Benito Mussolini. In the treaty, several privileges of the Pope such as the Palaces owned by the Pope or the Italian army has no right to invade these palaces were stated. But the most important thing is that this treaty circled a land, which is of course much smaller than that he had once owned, that belongs to the “Papal States”, which is restored as the “Vatican City State” since it was signed.

In conclusion, the identity of foreign properties in a country is defined by how it is been used by the people.They can be sanctuaries as well as prisons. In some cases, they protect. In others, they imprison. The dilemma remains because of political conflicts between the the home team and the team that played away. How to keep the balance between the interests of the two parties is a question that worth being discussed by politics as well as architects.



1. “Chongqing policeman Wang Lijun ‘holiday’ sparks rumours” last updated 8 February 2012

As the hero defeating the underground mafia in Chongqing several years ago, Wang Lijun again became the focus of the public sight because of being excused as the head of the police department.

2. “Wang Lijun: Chinese cop at the heart of Bo Xilai scandal” last updated Mon August 19, 2013

This article by Katie Hunt introduced the behind story understood or speculated by the public, which is the consequential incidents causing the fall of Bo Xilai, superior leader of Wang Lijun, is initialized by Wang Lijun’s promise to expose Bo’s criminal activities including corruption and murder.

Encyclopedia Entries

3. last modified on 5 August 2013

 The background and the aftermath of Wang Lijun Incident is included in this paragraph. Beside corruption, Bo’s wife murdering the British businessman Neil Heywood is the most important information Wang Lijun controlled when he was under Bo’s command, which might be the reason of the diversity between Wang and Bo.

4. last modified on 4 September 2013

This is an introduction of Wang Lijun’s direct superior Bo Xilai with the time line that including Wang Lijun incident and the consequential events that leads to Bo’s falling.

 Scholarly Articles

5. Lanxin Xiang, “Survival: Global Politics and Strategy” “The Bo Xilai Affair and China’s Future”pages 59-68 Published online: 18 May 2012 doi:10.1080/00396338.2012.690979

 The article evaluates the significant impact of Bo’s affair and Wang Lijun incident. The Bo affair has pushed the Beijing leadership to begin considering serious political reforms, because it has publicly exposed the fundamental flaws of China’s current political, economic and social systems.

6. Bo Xilai and wang lijun – stories you may not have heard. 2012. China scope(56) (Mar): 6-13, (accessed September 8, 2013).

A detailed and analytical description of the event from the start to the going-on trials of Bo Xilai. It reveals some of the truth that got covered up by the Chinese public press and the government. And it explained how some of those facts effect the progression of the events and how that reveals some the serious flaws of the political system of China.

Orthographic Documentation

7. Victoria Nuland  “Daily Press Briefing” Feburary 8th 2012

This is the official record of Wang Lijun’s meeting with Chengdu Consulate of the USA.

Video and Audio

8. “THE MIGHTY fall of Bo Xilai” YouTube video, 7:51 posted by “Josy Souza” Aug 25, 2013

 It’s a CNN’s report about the ongoing Bo Xilai’s trial discusses what rising political                        star’s downfall means for China


“Bo Xilai: Inside the Scandal” A WSJ documentary, 17:59 posted by “WSJ Digital                            Network” Jun 29, 2012

The documentary of the Bo Xilai event dissected the life of Bo Xilai into chapters                            along his political career and introduced the backgrounds of the political figure and                      the behind-the-scene stories of the scandal.

10. Lanxin Xiang, “Survival: Global Politics and Strategy” “The Bo Xilai Affair and                                 China’s Future”pages 59-68 Published online: 18 May 2012                                                                       doi:10.1080/00396338.2012.690979

11. Bo xilai and wang lijun – stories you may not have heard. 2012. Chinascope(56)                               (Mar): 6-13,                       accessed September 8, 2013

12. “Chongqing policeman Wang Lijun ‘holiday’ sparks rumours” last updated 8                                      February 2012

13. “Wang Lijun: Chinese cop at the heart of Bo Xilai scandal” last updated Mon                                    August 19, 2013]

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