China’s aircraft carrier troubles continue with more researchers charged with corruption
- Latest arrests include senior figures in development of world’s most advanced launch system
A senior researcher handling China’s most sensitive technology – related to development of the country’s first home-grown aircraft carriers – is facing prosecution on corruption-related charges after a four-month investigation.
Jin Tao, 54, the former research head of the state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) 712 Institute, was detained in September by the Hubei provincial branch of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Communist Party’s anti-corruption body.
The watchdog said yesterday Jin had “seriously violated party discipline” and “was suspected of a crime of duty causing huge loss to the national interest” and that he “should be dealt with sternly”.
CSIC is currently working on the first Chinese-built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, at its shipyard in the northeastern port city of Dalian, Liaoning province. The vessel’s design is based on the Liaoning, China’s only fully operational aircraft carrier.
The CSIC 712 Research Institute, based in the central China city of Wuhan – Hubei’s capital – is the country’s leading research body for marine electric propulsion and special batteries.
It is responsible for China’s new Integrated Electrical Propulsion System, which can convert all of an engine’s output into electricity, enabling the deployment of hi-tech weapon systems and the world’s most advanced aircraft launch system.
The company is also developing a third aircraft carrier, the Type 002, which a source close to the PLA Navy said would be fitted with the cutting edge electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), as used on the nuclear-powered USS Gerald Ford super carrier.
Jin’s downfall follows two other recent corruption scandals at troubled CSIC.
On Monday Bu Jianjie, a submarine scientist and former director of another CSIC research arm, was expelled from the party and placed under criminal investigation on multiple charges, while earlier this month former general manager Sun Bo was found guilty of trading power for financial gain and accepting bribes.
Sources have told the South China Morning Post that investigators from the CCDI were looking into allegations Sun had passed on confidential information about the Liaoning to foreign intelligence agents.
Details of what kind of information Sun may have divulged are unclear, but the same sources said Sun could be facing the death penalty.
Since his arrest, scores of CSIC workers have been schooled in how to protect classified information.
Jin, who had served as head and deputy party chief of the 712 Institute for the past two years, previously spent 13 years as deputy head of CSIC’s 704 Research Institute in Shanghai, which is responsible for developing electrical power generation systems like those used by electromagnetic catapults like EMALS.
Scandal previously rocked CSIC in 2016, when its then head of discipline inspection Liu Changhong was expelled from the party following an investigation by the CCDI. It was announced in September last year that he would face prosecution on suspicion of taking bribes.
CSIC is under pressure to get its two aircraft carriers ready for military use in time for next year’s 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in October 1949.
Its Dalian shipyard is working day and night to upgrade the Liaoning, while also preparing to deliver the Type 001A as early as August next year, in time to mark the 92nd anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Liberation Army.