Northeast cadres sacked over graft

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 12:00am

The Heilongjiang purge is related to an investigation of influence peddling

Five top officials in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang have been sacked for their alleged involvement in an influence-peddling scandal.

The purge is the latest to result from a long-running investigation into bribery to obtain official appointments.

Xinhua said on Sunday night that the provincial people's congress standing committee had accepted the resignations of vice-governor Fu Xiaoguang , provincial people's congress deputy director Fang Guangju, the head of the provincial court, Xu Yandong , and chief prosecutor Xu Fa .

The four, together with Zhang Qiuyang, a high-ranking member of the provincial party committee, were also removed from their party roles.

The officials are believed to have been implicated in the Ma De corruption scandal.

Ma, party secretary of Suihua county, was convicted in 2002 of taking bribes worth 23.85 million yuan over six years. He admitted having gained his position by paying 800,000 yuan to the director of the organisation department of the provincial party committee, Han Guizhi . Ms Han later became chairwoman of the Heilongjiang provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The mass dismissals are a victory for Beijing in its efforts to rein in wayward provincial officials in the northeast, who have had a tradition of ignoring orders from the capital.

Early this year, Jixi county three times resisted orders from Premier Wen Jiabao to pay wages owed to construction workers.

At the fourth plenum last month, Tian Fengshan , formerly governor of Heilongjiang and minister of state land resources, was stripped of his party membership after being found guilty of corruption charges.

Unlike Tian, the five Heilongjiang officials were still referred to as 'comrades' in the Xinhua report, indicating they were likely to be treated leniently in exchange for their co-operation in the corruption probes, a local source said.