Corruption in China

Communist Party graft-busters put former senior Beijing official in Hong Kong on probation

Li Gang taken to task for ‘severe violations’ of party discipline

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 7:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 11:32pm

China’s Communist Party graft-busters have put a former top central government official to Hong Kong and Macau on probation, citing “severe violations” of party discipline.

The announcement of Li Gang’s one-year probation came after the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) convened the last full meeting of this term in Beijing on Monday.

It also comes just over a week away from an all-important five-yearly national party congress that will decide the CCDI’s line-up for the next five years, as well as the party’s new leadership.

Li, 62, is the most senior former mainland official for Hong Kong affairs to be disciplined for a serious violation since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

He was abruptly removed as deputy head of the State Council’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office on August 22. Then last month, the National People’s Congress announced Li had been sacked from the legislature because he was under investigation for “severe violations of party discipline”.

Li is well known in Hong Kong, serving as the liaison office’s deputy director for nine years from 2003. He was later transferred to Macau and became head of the liaison office there in 2014, a position he occupied until July last year.

The CCDI did not give details of Li’s alleged violations, including when they were allegedly committed.

After expulsion, probation is the second most severe penalty a party member can face. Other penalties can range from a warning, to a stern warning and to removal from party post.

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“Once a party official is put on probation, all his party posts will naturally be removed,” said Zhuang Deshui, an anti-corruption specialist at Peking University.

Also at the Monday meeting, the CCDI put Qu Shuhui, a former senior Ministry of Civil Affairs anti-graft official, on probation for two years and stripped Liu Shengjie, deputy head of the People’s Liberation Army’s Logistic Support Department, of his CCDI membership.

In addition, the gathering of the CCDI’s 119 members approved a commission work report, which will be submitted to the party congress for endorsement.

Since President Xi Jinping came to office five years ago, CCDI chief and trusted Xi ally Wang Qishan has spearheaded a far-reaching and ferocious anti-corruption campaign, bringing down more than 250 senior officials and disciplining about 1.4 million cadres.

But at 69, Wang has reached the party’s unofficial retirement age and sources have said he might step down from the watchdog’s helm at the congress.

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In a separate statement on Monday, the CCDI said He Ting, former police chief of the scandal-plagued megacity of Chongqing, had been expelled from the party after commission investigators found he wasted public money and abused his power.

The 55-year-old was abruptly removed from his post without explanation in June. His downfall preceded that of Chongqing’s former party boss, Sun Zhengcai, who was once seen as political rising star but was sacked in July and then placed under investigation for suspected corruption. He was expelled from the party and facing prosecution late last month.

Mu Huaping, another vice-mayor of Chongqing, and Xia Chongyuan, former director of the Ministry of Public Security’s political department, have both been put on probation for two years for “severe violations” of political discipline and regulations, according to the statement.

Additional reporting by Choi Chi-yuk and Reuters