Chengdu sweeps out 51 officials, state firm heads

No reason given for action, but several had ties to fallen deputy provincial party chief

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 August, 2013, 4:05am

Dozens of government officials and heads of state-owned enterprises in Sichuan's capital city of Chengdu have been reassigned or removed from their posts, including people with alleged ties to disgraced former deputy provincial party chief Li Chuncheng and the judge who presided over the trial of Wang Lijun.

The change affects 51 cadres and was announced on the official website of the city's organisation department late on Tuesday. No reasons were given for the decisions.

Among those removed from their posts were Zhang Jun, former chairman of the state-owned Chengdu Construction Engineering Corporation, and Tan Jianming, chairman of Chengdu Xingrong, a tap water provider involved in the region's environmental protection projects.

Both were detained earlier this year, allegedly in connection with Li's corruption case, according to earlier mainland media reports.

Purges started in December when the 56-year-old Li was detained for "serious violations of laws".

Months later, Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor and the chairman of the province's branch of the Federation of Literary and Art Circles, a national non-governmental organisation, was also taken into custody.

The scale of the action is unusual, as the downfall of a high-level official traditionally does not affect his or her followers, according to political scientist Zhang Ming at Renmin University of China.

"The action likely means the investigation into Li's case is nearing its close," Zhang said.

Meanwhile, Zhong Erpu, deputy chief of the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court, was also removed from his post. He was the chief judge at Wang's trial in September.

Wang, the ex-police chief of Chongqing , fled to the US consulate in Chengdu in February last year. He was at the heart of the scandal that felled the municipality's now disgraced former party chief, Bo Xilai. Wang was sentenced to 15 years in jail on charges of corruption, defection and other crimes.

The Chengdu court was praised by the higher provincial court in May this year, after Wang's trial, for handling "some major cases that had great national impact".

Zhong said his removal was simply due to him reaching retirement age, according to the 21st Century Business Herald. But there has been wide speculation online that he might have been involved in Li's corruption case. A representative for the Chengdu court refused to comment.

Li was the first senior official sacked after President Xi Jinping became Communist Party secretary last November. After taking power, Xi vowed to come down hard on party graft.

After Li's fall, several senior officials, including some vice-ministerial-level officials, were detained over corruption allegations. Among them were Li Daqiu, vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee in Guangxi, and Wang Suyi, head of Inner Mongolia's United Front Work Department.