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Tianjin warehouse explosion 2015

China safety boss sacked over Tianjin blasts jailed for corruption

Yang Dongliang given 15-year prison term after he was convicted of taking bribes worth over US$4 million

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 3:24pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 4:23pm

China’s former top work-safety official has been jailed for 15 years for corruption a year and a half after he was sacked over a giant industrial explosion that killed 173 people.

Yang Dongliang, now 63, was head of the State Administration of Work Safety in August 2015 when a series of mammoth blasts at a dangerous chemicals storage facility rocked the northern port of Tianjin.

China’s work safety chief detained for alleged graft in midst of Tianjin blast fallout

Yang was quickly removed from his post after the disaster and subsequently placed under investigation for corruption.

A court in Beijing announced Yang’s sentence in a statement late Tuesday, saying that from 2002 to 2015 he took bribes totalling 28.5 million yuan (US$4.14 millon) in exchange for project contracts.

The court also said he bought a 270,000-yuan apartment in Tianjin in 1999 using government funds.

The statement, however, did not mention whether any of Yang’s corrupt activities were tied directly to the Tianjin disaster.

Yang was fined two million yuan and his ill-gotten assets confiscated.

Before taking up his national post, Yang was an official in Tianjin for 18 years, rising to become a vice-mayor.

Has China failed to learn the lessons of the deadly Tianjin explosions?

Government corruption is rampant in China and President Xi Jinping launched a much-publicised anti-graft campaign after coming to power in 2012.

The drive has resulted in nearly 1.2 million people being punished by the end of 2016, a senior official said recently.