Wu Guanzheng: Stern pioneer of anti-graft drive

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 8:59am

As the Communist Party's top disciplinary official, Wu Guanzheng's name was synonymous with the party's anti-corruption drive over the past five years. His recent major appearances, especially over the past year or so, have featured an insistent emphasis on anti-corruption efforts.

Despite the dim prospects for a real cure for official corruption, Mr Wu's work at the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has helped the party fight graft, improve its public image and counter rising social unease caused by the widening gap between the rich and the needy.

Under his watch, a long list of high party officials have been toppled in the past year for profiteering from their positions. They include former Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu, former national drug administration head Zheng Xiaoyu, former Beijing vice-mayor Liu Zhihua and former national statistics chief Qiu Xiaohua .

A look at his two-decades-long political career shows the stoney-faced official built his early reputation on liberalism.

Mr Wu was born in August 1938 into a poor family in Yugan county, Jiangxi province, an area known for its revolutionary past.

Legend has it he did not own a decent pair of shoes until 1959, when he was admitted to Tsinghua University to major in thermal engineering and automation.

After graduating with a master's degree in 1968, Mr Wu worked as a technician at the Wuhan Gedian Chemical Plant until 1975, when he was promoted to vice-director of the city's science and technology commission.

In 1983, he was invested with the dual responsibilities of party secretary and mayor of Wuhan. Three years later he was elevated to the position of vice-governor of Jiangxi.

Back on home turf, Mr Wu promoted economic reform as a way to shake off poverty, transforming the province into one of the country's fastest-growing economic powerhouses during the 1990s.

He headed up a team of officials who visited Hong Kong in 1992 to seek investment in Jiangxi, becoming the first governor from the province to visit the city.

Mr Wu also promoted 'thought liberalisation' and was regarded as one of the rising stars from the 'Tsinghua clique' singled out by Deng Xiaoping .

In 1995, he caught media attention with his proposals on ways to prevent corruption by secretaries and aides of leading politicians - suggestions that probably helped pave the way to his eventual post on the party's disciplinary commission.

But first, between 1997 and 2002, he was governor of Shandong and president of the influential Central Party School. He became a Politburo Standing Committee member and director of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in 2002.