China graft watchdog probes top official

AFP-JIJI

China’s anti-graft watchdog is investigating the head of the commission that oversees state-owned firms for alleged “serious disciplinary violations,” official media reported Sunday as the country’s leaders ramp up the fight against corruption.

The probe of Jiang Jiemin follows several graft cases against top officials and the dramatic trial of fallen Communist Party heavyweight Bo Xilai for alleged bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

In a brief dispatch, Xinhua News Agency said Jiang “is being investigated over suspected serious disciplinary violations,” a term used as a euphemism for corruption by officials.

Xinhua said it obtained the information about Jiang, head of the Cabinet’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, from the party’s anti-corruption watchdog.

Jiang has a seat on the ruling party’s Central Committee, which has about 200 members. The State Council is China’s Cabinet.

President Xi Jinping, who took office in March, has vowed to oust corrupt officials all the way from low-level “flies” to high-ranking “tigers” amid fears graft could threaten the party’s hold on power.

Zhang Zhiwei, an economist with Nomura International in Hong Kong, said that the commission Jiang heads is significant as it oversees China’s state-owned enterprises, which play a major role in the economy.

“This announcement suggests the anti-corruption campaign is picking up speed,” he said in a report.

News of the investigation into Jiang comes as state media last month reported that the party had expelled one of its highest-ranking officials to come under suspicion for graft.

Former top economic policymaker Liu Tienan “took advantage of his position to seek profits for others” and was “morally degenerate”, Xinhua reported, citing the party discipline inspection commission.

Liu, once the deputy director of the influential National Development and Reform Commission, lost his party and government posts.

Expulsion from the party is normally a precursor to criminal prosecution for Chinese officials.

On Friday, a Hong Kong newspaper reported that China will launch a corruption investigation into one of the country’s most powerful politicians of the last decade.

The probe of former security tsar Zhou Yongkang was reported by the South China Morning Post, which cited “sources familiar with the leadership’s thinking”.

Zhou is a recently retired member of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, its top body and would be the highest-ranking official to be investigated for decades.

Sunday’s report comes after the high-profile trial of Bo, which ended last week.

Analysts widely believe that a guilty verdict for Bo — who once ran the southwestern city of Chongqing and was one of the 25 highest-ranking members of the ruling party — is a foregone conclusion and that he likely faces a long prison sentence.

The Global Times newspaper, which has close ties to the party, reported Wednesday that China’s leaders will gather in November for a key meeting on economic reforms.

Zhang said that the probe into Jiang had mixed implications for China’s economy.

“Anti-corruption cases will probably lead to a reshuffling of senior officials, which may delay some government activity,” he wrote. “However, we believe it is a long-term positive because it shows the new leadership is on track to establishing its authority, which is a necessary condition for implementing tough structural reforms.”

  • Chris

    They know the outcome of this probe is predetermined.