Corruption in China

Ousted Shanghai boss 'is not immune'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 August, 2007, 12:00am

Chen Liangyu awaits his fate 'in good health'

The ousted Communist Party boss of Shanghai, Chen Liangyu , was in jail awaiting trial on corruption charges and his health was good, a top disciplinary official said yesterday, a week after Chen was removed from all party and government positions.

In September, Chen was removed from his position as the top leader of the mainland's commercial capital and his seat in the all-powerful Politburo of the ruling Communist Party for his role in the embezzlement of more than 3 billion yuan from Shanghai's pension fund. More than 20 government and state company officials were implicated.

Last week, the Politburo stripped Chen, 60, of his party membership as well as his National People's Congress position.

'Prosecutors are investigating Chen's case and the court will decide the date for the trial,' Gan Yisheng , deputy secretary of the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said yesterday.

'According to the law, it does not matter who you are; once you've been handed to the law, you'll be held in detention. Chen Liangyu is, of course, not immune.'

Mr Gan said Chen's health was 'very good'.

Chen was the first Politburo member to be purged for corruption since former Beijing party boss Chen Xitong in 1995.

Analysts see the ousting of Chen, a key member of the 'Shanghai faction' headed by former president Jiang Zemin , as part of a power struggle within the top echelons of the party ahead of this autumn's 17th Party Congress. President and party chief Hu Jintao had used the anti-corruption campaign to get rid of Jiang loyalists and promote his own men to fill vacancies.

Mr Gan defended the government's use of the death penalty to punish corrupt officials, just weeks after the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration was executed for graft.

'China has so far kept the death penalty system, and the death penalty is applicable to serious economic crimes,' he said. 'As for the death penalty, different countries have different situations and different cultural backgrounds and it's nothing to be criticised.'

Mr Gan's remarks came a month after Zheng Xiaoyu , 62, was put to death for corrupt behaviour during his time as head of the food and drugs watchdog.

'The reason for Zheng Xiaoyu's death sentence was that he had taken a lot of bribes and had committed serious crimes,' he said.

Mr Gan was speaking at a news briefing on the party watchdog's work in inspection tours, an inner-party supervision mechanism under which inspectors with rankings as senior as cabinet minister are sent to regional governments, central agencies and state-owned companies as part of upgraded efforts to fight corruption and malpractice among senior cadres.

He said inspectors had recently completed tours of all 31 provincial-level governments and 24 major central government-owned enterprises. Inspectors discovered a range of problems when they examined key state banks, securities houses and insurers as part of the nationwide check, Mr Gan said.

Mr Gan said that the party had closed the case on Song Pingshun , 61, the former chairman of the Tianjin Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who killed himself in June after coming under investigation for corruption. Last month, the party also announced it had posthumously stripped Song of his party membership.

Mr Gan's comment appeared to be an effort to dismiss reports that Song's case was linked to more senior figures.