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Chinese police chief may be seeking asylum

The former police chief of a major Chinese city has disappeared from sight amid rumours he is seeking US asylum following a quarrel with one of China's most powerful local politicians.

Wang Lijun, whose crusade against crime gangs inspired a TV drama, has taken leave to recover from "overwork", the city government of Chongqing said.

Mr Wang stepped down from his job last week, prompting speculation of a fallout with the city's Communist Party secretary, Bo Xilai, who is believed to be seeking national office.

The police chief may have fallen out of favour because his crackdown on criminal gangs strayed from standard procedures and clashed with the central government's campaign to strengthen the rule of law, analysts said. There is speculation that Mr Wang sought asylum at the US consulate in Chengdu after quarrelling with Mr Bo.