Shanxi Party chief to be sidelined as anti-graft campaign sweeps province
Sidelining of Yuan Chunqing makes him the most senior leader to be tangled in anti-graft campaign sweeping resource-rich province
Keith Zhai and Keira Lu Huang
The party boss of Shanxi province will be sidelined and replaced by his Jilin counterpart, making him the most senior leader to be tangled in a wide-ranging anti-graft campaign in the resource-rich province.
Wang Rulin, 61, had already arrived in Shanxi to take over from Yuan Chunqing, 62, sources said. One source said Yuan would not be investigated and would instead be assigned to a less important post. The source also said that Yuan's ties with Shanxi Governor Li Xiaopeng, the son of former premier Li Peng, were strained.
Under Yuan's leadership, seven vice-provincial-level party cadres in Shanxi have been taken away for investigation in the past few months, including Ling Zhengce, the brother of Ling Jihua, a one-time aide to former president Hu Jintao. Yuan was also once a subordinate of Hu at the Communist Youth League.
The latest casualties were Bai Yun, a member of the Shanxi party leadership's standing committee and director of its United Front Work Department, and Shanxi vice-governor Ren Runhou, whose detention was announced by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) on Friday.
Party bosses in the Shanxi cities of Taiyuan and Yuncheng - and their immediate predecessors - were also taken away for investigation. And in Luliang, the two predecessors of the incumbent party boss were detained.
The extent of the clean-out has been described by mainland media as rare in modern Chinese political history. The officials were caught up in the commission's anti-corruption push into all four leading groups of the province - the provincial party committee, the provincial people's congress, the provincial government, and the provincial political consultative conference.
Also reportedly detained as part of the Shanxi sweep was Zhang Xinming, once the province's richest man.
Zhang is the founder of Shanxi Jinye Coking Coal, the company which is at the centre of a controversial deal with China Resources Power.
Yuan was promoted to Shanxi party chief in May 2010. Before that he served as deputy secretary of the Shaanxi party committee and chairman of the Standing Committee of the Xian Municipal People's Congress. He also worked at the CCDI from 1997 to 2001.
Yuan's successor, Wang, served his entire career in Jilin, becoming provincial party chief in December 2012.
Wang's last reported public appearance was on August 20, when he met the chief of state-owned China Tobacco.
Earlier this year at the National People's Congress, Wang was publicly upbraided by anti-graft tsar Wang Qishan as he prepared to launch into a long pre-written speech at the province's panel discussion. The news of the rebuke was initially blocked online on the mainland, but has since appeared on local search engines.
Jilin Governor Bayinchaolu would replace Wang as the province's party chief, sources said.