Political intrigue continues to hover over what's happened in the Chinese city of Chongqing, and those trying to read tea leaves now see trouble in the conspicuous absence of the city's Communist Party leader from newspaper front pages.
Last week, the intrigue kicked off when Chongqing's charismatic corruption-buster and former top cop, Wang Lijun, had a highly unusual meeting at the US Consulate in Chengdu, about two hours from Chongqing in western China.
The running speculation is that Wang, once the right-hand man to Chongqing's ambitious party chief Bo Xilai, had a major falling out with his boss and was looking for an escape.
The US government has declined to answer rumors that Wang was asking for asylum from the US, and Chongqing's city government has said Wang is now on leave for exhaustion, on a forced vacation.
Chongqing native and writer Xujun Eberlien, who lives in Boston, has written a very plausible speculative rundown of what might have happened.
Now Bo Xilai, the Chongqing party chief, is long believed to be gunning for a key spot in the central government during China's power transition over the next year and is missing from national front pages.
Hong Kong's South China Morning Post noted that although Canadian Prime Minister met with Bo in Chongqing over the weekend, there were no pictures prominently displayed in national state-run media of the high-level meeting.
"The omission raised further questions about Bo's political career, which was dealt a blow last week after the attempted defection of his right-hand man," the paper reported.
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