Ex-Taiwan affairs cadre gets the axe from top Chinese advisory body
Zheng Lizhong, architect of the mainland’s economic concessions to self-ruled island, expelled from CPPCC
A former senior mainland Chinese official responsible for Taiwan affairs was removed from the country’s top advisory body, state media reported on Thursday.
Sources said Zheng Lizhong’s removal from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference could be a sign that he may be implicated in “economic crimes”, a common euphemism for corruption.
Zheng is a former executive vice-director of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office. He is also the vice-director of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, a post he has held since 2008.
In its main news programme last night, state-run CCTV reported that Zheng’s removal was approved at a CPPCC meeting chaired by its head, Yu Zhengsheng.
The report did not give a reason for Zheng’s departure but sources said it might be related to Zheng’s “economic problem”.
A source said Zheng had close ties with Taiwanese businessmen on the mainland, and had been under investigation for several months.
Another source said Zheng was responsible for the mainland’s economic concessions towards Taiwan.
Those policies have been criticised for mainly benefiting mainland-friendly politicians on Taiwan but not the general public of the self-ruled island.
Zheng, 65, was a Fujian native. He was a awarded a master’s degree in economics from Jilin University, and spent most of his career in Fujian.
He visited Taiwan more than 30 times, and was seen as a rising star on track to possibly heading the TAO.
On one trip to the island in 2008, supporters of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party accused him of setting up a trap of reunification.
He is fluent in the Hokkien dialect and was also responsible for negotiating cross-strait affairs. Kao Koong-lian, former secretary general of the Straits Exchange Foundation in Taiwan, once described Zheng as a “respectable negotiator”.
President Xi Jinping launched a massive anti-corruption campaign after coming to power more than four years ago. The anti-graft drive has netted numerous one-time high-fliers, including former security tsar Zhou Yongkang and ex-presidential aide Ling Jihua.
A source familiar with cross-strait ties said more than a dozen officials from the Taiwan Affairs Office were being monitored for suspected corruption, including taking bribes from Taiwanese businessmen.
The announcement of Zheng’s removal comes a day after former TAO deputy director Gong Qinggai stood trial in Henan province for graft.
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Prosecutors allege Gong took advantage of his authority during his postings in Fujian province to help various entities and individuals acquire land and obtain government subsidies. Moreover, he either requested or accepted bribes valued at 53.53 million yuan (HK$60 million) directly or through his family.
In a final statement to the court, Gong pleaded guilty and expressed remorse. The court has adjourned to decide on the verdict.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced in January last year that Gong was under investigation for suspected disciplinary violations.