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Top Political Advisor Investigated for Graft

Highest-Ranking Target in Two-Year-Old Crackdown

A vice chairman of the country's top political advisory body is being investigated for "serious violations of discipline," the Communist Party's anti-graft fighter says.

The Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC) did not provide details of Su Rong's alleged crimes, but the phrase usually means graft.

Su, the Vice Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), is the highest-level official to be investigated since the party's anti-corruption campaign started soon after its Eighteenth Congress in November 2012.

The CPPCC has more than 2,000 members who advise the government on a range of topics, from sports to the economy. It usually meets once a year in the capital at the same time as the legislature. The 23 CPPCC Vice Chairmen are technically "state leaders," along with the president, premier, government ministers, and others.

Su, a 66-year-old native of the northeastern province of Jilin, was appointed the Vice Chairman of the CPPCC in March 2013. Before that he was party boss of the eastern province of Jiangxi, a job he took in 2007.

The inquiry into Su is linked to his time Jiangxi, sources close to the investigation said. The CDIC had an investigation team in the province from May 27 to August 20 of last year. The ex-wife of a former official told investigators that Su's wife took bribes linked to land and construction deals. She also accused Su of protecting his wife and framing her husband.

Wang Hongju, the head of the investigation team, said in a September report that the probe in Jiangxi uncovered a series of problems, including officials and their relatives taking bribes and seeking personal gain in construction deals. The team reported these cases to the CDIC for further investigation, Wang said.

Su's last public appearance was on June 10 when he visited Yushu, in the northwestern province of Qinghai, for the opening of an investment fair. Su was the party head of Qinghai from 2001 to 2003.

Su started his career as an accountant in a village in Jilin. He later served as the party head of the provinces of Jilin, Qinghai, Gansu, and Jiangxi.

The Jiangxi Storm

The CDIC inspection team arrived in Jiangxi in late May 2013 as part of a nationwide examination of local governments and their officials. This was shortly after Su left the province to take up the CPPCC post in Beijing.

The inspection caused a storm in Jiangxi, as a number of senior officials have stepped down over corruption inquiries, including three provincial-level leaders.

A report on the inspection published in the Jiangxi Daily newspaper in February this year said the team investigated 610 major government investment projects dating back to 2011 and uncovered wrongdoing in infrastructure, mining, and water projects. Graft was also found on university campuses, it said.

Since December 2013, the CDIC has announced investigations into Chen Anzhong, Vice Chairman of Provincial People's Congress Standing Committee; Yao Mugen, Vice Governor of Jiangxi; and Zhao Zhiyong, Secretary General of the Provincial Party Committee.

More than a dozen lower-level officials in the province have also fallen from grace, including He Jinming, Party Secretary of Dexing City, and Liu Qingcheng, President of East China Institute of Technology in Nanchang.

Zhou Jianhua Case

As party boss in Jiangxi, Su backed an anti-corruption drive targeting local officials and won high praise from official media outlets.

One well-known case involved bribery charges against Zhou Jianhua, the former deputy party head of Xinyu City. In January, a court in Yichun handed Zhou what amounted to a suspended death sentence for taking 14 million yuan in bribes.

Zhou told the court Su framed him for reporting corruption involving Su's wife.

During the CDIC's inspection of the province, Zhou's ex-wife, Yao Minjian, repeated the accusation, telling investigators that Su's wife was involved in corruption related to land and construction deals in Xinyu, sources close to the investigation say. She also said Su framed Zhou because he told graft busters about the activities of Su's wife.

Lu Jinxing, Zhou's lawyer, said that during his detention his client related a story about a gold mine. Zhou said that Su's wife and Zhao Zhiyong, then Secretary General of the Provincial Party Committee, forced Xinyu authorities to approve the opening of a mine that had been closed due to pollution concerns.

Zhou also accused Su's wife of taking bribes in exchange for favors in a land auction and in several infrastructure projects. Zhou told his lawyers that he reported these cases to anti-corruption officials and Su then framed him.

The High People's Court of Jiangxi reopened Zhou's case in February, and four hearings have been held.

Topics: 
Business, Law, Politics
Keywords: 
Corruption, Graft