University official caught fleeing graft probe with forged passport
A newspaper report indicates that a graft probe is shaking up Renmin University, one of China’s most prestigious, as one cadre tried to flee the country.
The Legal Evening News, a Beijing-based newspaper, said on Wednesday it had confirmed rumours that Cai Rongsheng, the head of the student admissions office at Renmin University in Beijing, also known as People's University of China, was implicated in the embezzlement of hundreds of million of yuan.
Cai, 52, was stopped at customs in Shenzhen as he attempted to travel to Canada on a forged passport, the report said.
The report also named Hu Juan, the executive dean of the university’s School of Education, as another person being dismissed from her post and investigated.
Hu, 41, is also a professor for educational management at the school. According to her profile page on the university's Web site, Hu has a PhD in management from the university and had worked as a secretary to the former president of the university, Ji Baocheng, before she was promoted to senior teaching and management posts.
The university's information office said in a statement it was aware of the report, but had not been officially notified. The School of Education and the Admissions Office could not be reached for comment. Cai and Hu have not replied to emailed requests for comment.
It is unclear whether the report is linked to an audit by an inspection team by the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) audited the university in summer.
The auditors found “weaknesses in the autonomous enrolment of students and other aspects,” according to a summary report released by the graft watchdog in September. Other criticisms included the administration of payrolls of leading cadres, lax management over overseas trips, banquets and gifts.
Chen Jiwa, the head of the auditing team, was also quoted as saying that the team had "received complaints against problems with some cadre members" at the university and forwarded these complaints to the CCDI for further investigation.
Cai has been detained and Hu has been dismissed, Zhang Keyun, an economics professor at the university, wrote in an email.
He had raised the problem of malpractice in the university’s enrolment with then President Ji Baocheng two years ago, he had written in a blog post on Sunday.
“In a few days, the media will report on them,” he wrote referring to Cai, Hu and Ji. “[The media] will tell you that my judgment two years ago was correct.”
Ji, 68, a well-known economist and educator, had served 11 years as the president of the university before he retired two years ago. He is currently listed as a professor at the university’s School of Education, according to its homepage. He was not mentioned in the Legal Evening News report.
Since his retirement, Ji has repeatedly spoken out against the ills of the Chinese education system, such as excessive bureaucratic interference and red tape in universities. Ironically, such criticism seems to strike a cord with the reform guidelines hammered out at the Party's Third Plenum in mid-November, which called for stripping bureaucratic management from universities and research institutes.