Chinese official suspected of defecting to France
Yang Xianghong, a Chinese communist party official, did not return from a visit to Paris earlier in October.
22 October 2008
BEIJING -- A middle-ranking Chinese communist party official did not return from an official visit to Paris, state media reported Wednesday, amid increasing suspicion that he defected to France.
Yang Xianghong, a party official in Wenzhou, a city in east China's Zhejiang province, did not return from his trip in early October, according to a report published on the website of CCTV, China's national television.
Yang claimed he remained in Paris due to an old back problem that returned during his visit, the report said, quoting a local newspaper.
According to a story published in Oriental Outlook, an official weekly magazine, Yang received a phone call from the Zhejiang disciplinary inspection agency in late September, three days before he left on the trip.
The disciplinary inspection body manages misconduct among party members,
The report did not mention the content of the phone call, but said that two days into the trip in Paris, Yang left the tour group to visit his daughter who lives in the French capital.
The report also said that Yang's son-in-law gave a resignation letter written by Yang to a member of the tour group at the end of the trip to pass on to the local government in Wenzhou.
But the city's party secretary denied he received the letter, according to China News Service, a news agency.
It would not be the first time that a Chinese official from Wenzhou defected abroad, according to the Oriental Outlook report.
Yang Xiuzhu, once the deputy mayor of Wenzhou, fled abroad in April 2003 and was never found.
The local government sent an official and a doctor to France "probably to persuade Yang to come back, but there is hardly any hope", the report said, citing a source close to the situation.
[AFP / Expatica]