City focuses on economy to erase smuggling shame
The Government of Zhanjiang municipality in Guangdong province will not dwell on its scandal-tainted past but move forward with economic development, Mayor Zhou Zhenhong said.
Mr Zhou, 42, a former vice-president of Guangdong University of Industry, came to power last year as part of a central government crackdown on what was described as the largest bribery and smuggling ring in modern mainland history.
The ring in Zhanjiang city smuggled 248 cars, more than 3,600 car bodies, 190,000 tonnes of steel products, 40,000 tonnes of diesel and 10,000 tonnes of sugar between 1996 and 1998.
The racket, which involved more than 200 government and police officials and cost state funds more than 10 billion yuan (HK$9.3 billion), was broken last September when an estimated 10,000 central government and police officials were employed to bring about the arrest of the area's top leaders.
So far more than 60 people have been sentenced for their roles in the scandal, including Zhanjiang's former party secretary Chen Tongqing and Customs chief Cao Xiukang.
On Wednesday 46 people were sentenced, including two commanders of the provincial marine border force.
Mr Zhou said Zhanjiang would focus on the future and cope with problems as they arose.
He said the municipal Government was concentrating on building a stable environment for developing Zhanjiang into a regional capital for western Guangdong.
That included creating a new image for Zhanjiang, attracting talent from throughout the province and country and improving the use of funds, natural resources and information to further industrialise the area's agricultural sector.
The deputy secretary-general of the Zhanjiang People's Municipal Government, Feng Lu, supported the crackdown.
'Smuggling is bad and the investigation has had a positive impact. The economy, financial and social order have all improved,' he said.