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Corruption in China

Former senior Chinese diplomat Cao Baijun latest to be caught up in anti-graft campaign

Ex-director of International Department bureaus placed under investigation over ‘serious violations of party discipline’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 11:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 December, 2017, 11:23pm

A former senior Chinese diplomat who used to oversee Western Europe and Africa relations has been placed under investigation five years after he left his post, the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog said on Sunday.

Cao Baijun, 63 – who was director of two bureaus under the party’s International Department that handles ties with foreign political parties – is accused of “serious violations of party discipline”, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement, using the common euphemism for corruption.

From 2008 to 2012, Cao was director of the department’s bureau in charge of liaison work with political parties from Sub-Saharan Africa, news outlet Caixin reported. He went on to work as a consultant for a metals company based in Guangdong.

His last public appearance was on August 8 at a business event, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

Cao is the second senior diplomat to be detained in a sweeping anti-corruption drive launched by President Xi Jinping in 2012. In January, the CCDI said Zhang Kunsheng had been sacked from his job as an assistant foreign minister and placed under investigation, also suspected of violations of party discipline.

Zhang, 56, was the most senior of the four assistant foreign ministers and was in charge of the ministry’s protocol department.

Cao, who is from Nanjing in Jiangsu province, is said to be fluent in German, English and other languages. He graduated from the Shanghai Foreign Language Institute – now the Shanghai International Studies University – in 1975, aiming to become a top translator, according to Beijing Youth Daily.

He joined the International Department in 1975, specialising in German-speaking countries. He was sent to Heidelberg University, where he studied international politics and published a series of research reports on Sino-German diplomacy and German foreign affairs.

When he returned to China in 1985, he was promoted to head the German section of the liaison department. Cao was chief translator when German politicians visited China.

He went on to study at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1992 and later returned to China, eventually becoming director of the Western Europe bureau, then head of the Africa bureau, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

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It is unclear what the investigation into Cao relates to, but it is unusual for an official from the department to be caught up in a corruption probe.

The investigation comes after the department’s resident anti-graft officer was installed by the CCDI last year.

One political insider based in Beijing told the South China Morning Post that the department “was once well-known for being squeaky clean”.

“The main reason they were seen as so incorruptible is that many of them are really academics and don’t have much opportunity to profit from their jobs,” he said.

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