Sichuan official with Zhou Yongkang link expelled from Communist Party

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 4:42am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 4:27pm

Li Chuncheng, Sichuan's former deputy party chief and an ally of retired security boss Zhou Yongkang, has been stripped of his titles for violating party discipline.

Li was also expelled from the Communist Party, its disciplinary watchdog said yesterday.

The announcement brings the party one step closer to deciding the fate of Zhou, who is believed to have been placed under detention in December amid a wide-ranging graft investigation.

Li was transferred to Sichuan, Zhou's power base, in 1998, and steadily rose through party ranks. Authorities began investigating him for suspected graft in December 2012.

"Li Chuncheng used the convenience of his position to seek benefits for others, and received a large amount of bribes," the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a brief statement. He "misused his position to engage in feudal and superstitious activities, causing great financial losses for the state" and was "decadent and degenerate", it added.

His wife and daughter received "large amounts of goods" from other people, and Li abused his position to help his brother's business, the statement said.

His acts constituted crimes, and his case would be handed over to the judiciary for prosecution, it said.

Resource-rich Sichuan has become the geographical locus of a sweeping anti-graft campaign launched by President Xi Jinping .

Li was among the first of the province's leadership to be detained, and was followed a few months later by Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor. Earlier this month, authorities announced Guo had been expelled from the party and would face prosecution.

Several of Zhou's political allies have been detained and questioned, including former vice-minister of public security Li Dongsheng, and Jiang Jiemin, who was chief regulator of state-owned enterprises.

Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University in Beijing, said authorities still appeared to be trying to gather evidence about Zhou and it was unclear when the findings would be announced.

Li's alleged "feudal and superstitious activities" were likely tied to fung shui practices, Zhang said. Li spent his formative years in Harbin in Heilongjiang, first as a student and then in various official positions, including deputy chief of the city's branch of the Communist Youth League and deputy mayor.