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China moves to quell anti-Japan protests (+video)

The Chinese government is attempting to contain anti-Japanese sentiment prompted by a dispute over a group of contested uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

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The notion that one faction would seek to rattle the other by street politics didn’t seem out of the question given the tumultuous nature of Chinese politics this year.

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In the southwest city of Chengdu on Tuesday, a court ended the second and final day of the trial of Wang Lijun, the former police chief and vice mayor of the sprawling metropolis of Chongqing. Wang’s unsanctioned overnight trip to a U.S. Consulate in February took down the political career of Chongqing’s then-Communist Party secretary, Bo Xilai, who until that point had been viewed as a leading candidate for the Politburo Standing Committee, the center of ruling power here.

Wang reportedly passed on to the Americans information about Bo’s wife being involved in the murder of a British businessman the prior November. The wife, Gu Kailai, was last month sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve that will probably be converted to a lengthy prison term. So far, Bo has not been charged with a crime and he’s not been publicly mentioned in connection with either the Gu or Wang trial.

State TV footage on Tuesday showed Wang entering the courtroom, which was off limits to foreign media, in a short-sleeve white collared shirt and black-rimmed glasses. He’d faced charges of defection and abuse of power the day before in a secretive closed-door hearing. On Tuesday, with cameras showing an audience, the “open” court session considered crimes including taking bribes and “bending the law for selfish ends,” according to the state Xinhua newswire.

State media reports suggested that the court will show leniency to Wang, who looked comfortable in the short televised clip and reportedly did not contest his charges, and that he’ll avoid the death penalty.

After listing his alleged transgressions — covering up the fact that Gu was a suspect in killing the businessman, having “defected to another country’s consulate,” conducting illegal surveillance and receiving more than $480,000 in bribes — Xinhua paraphrased prosecutors as saying that Wang helped with “cracking the case” of Gu’s crime.

Xinhua went on to report that after turning himself in from the U.S. Consulate and confessing all, Wang, “produced important clues for exposing serious offences committed by others and played a key part in the investigation of these cases. This can be considered as performing major meritorious services, prosecutors said in the indictment paper.”

It was not clear whether any of those cases involved Bo Xilai. To date, Xinhua has only reported, in April, that he was “suspected of being involved in serious discipline violations.”

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