Chinese President Hu Jintao, center left, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard, center right witness the signing of a bi-lateral agreement being signed by Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, seated left, and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, seated right on the sidelines of the annual APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) meetings Thursday Sept. 6, 2007 in Sydney Australia. Prime Minister John Howard and Chinese President Hu Jintao announced plans for the yearly "security dialogue" after holding a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Pacific Rim leaders' forum in Sydney.(AP Photo/Ed Wray)

Beijing - The Chinese police chief at the centre of the biggest political scandal to engulf the communist party in decades has been charged with defection, power abuse and taking bribes, state media said on Wednesday.

The charges against Wang Lijun, the former Chongqing police chief and right hand man of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, come after he fled to a US consulate in February, reportedly seeking asylum.

He was also charged with “bending the law for selfish ends”, according to Xinhua.

Bo had been widely expected to ascend to the all-powerful Politburo later this year until sensational murder allegations were made against his wife Gu Kailai.

He is now under investigation for “serious discipline violations” - party code for corruption - while his Gu was handed a suspended death sentence for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Wang reportedly confronted Bo with information related to the murder before fleeing to the US consulate in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where he spoke with US officials for several hours.

Security forces surrounded the consulate and Wang was subsequently handed over to Chinese custody, but the incident triggered the rapid unravelling of Bo's fortunes and those of his high-flying family.

The charges against Wang were filed at the Intermediate People's Court in Chengdu City, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, Xinhua said, but it was unclear at this stage whether Wang would face trial at the court. - Sapa-AFP