Beijing steps up corruption crackdown with dismissal of leading cadre Jiang Jiemin

Anti-graft move also sees ‘Brother Watch’ get 14 years in jail

 Jiang Jiemin, fired as director  of commission overseeing China’s major state-owned companies. Photograph: Daniel J. Groshong/Bloomberg

Jiang Jiemin, fired as director of commission overseeing China’s major state-owned companies. Photograph: Daniel J. Groshong/Bloomberg

 


China’s leadership is stepping up its corruption crackdown with the formal dismissal of the cadre Jiang Jiemin, director of the commission overseeing China’s major state-owned companies. As the anti-graft drive intensifies, meanwhile, a Chinese official who caused an outcry by grinning at the scene of a bus crash has been given a 14-year jail sentence for corruption.

Yang Dacai led a Shanxi province work safety administration when photographs of him smiling at the crash scene circulated online.

Outraged citizens noted the luxury wristwatch he wore and dug up more photos of him wearing expensive timepieces, nicknaming him “Brother Watch” and demanding to know how he could afford them.

The investigation and dismissal of Mr Jiang is part of efforts by the new leadership under President Xi Jinping and the premier, Li Keqiang, to tighten their grip on state-owned enterprises.

By jailing Yang, the government is keen to show it is aware of public dissatisfaction with official corruption, analysts say.

“The central authorities promise to tackle both ‘tigers’ and ‘flies’, which shows their iron will in spotting and handling corrupt cadres regardless of their identities or positions,” said Xin Ming, a professor with the Communist Party’s think- tank, the Party School.

The Communist Party has 80 million members in China.

State-owned enterprises have tremendous power in China, possibly even enough muscle to scupper the government’s plans to reform the economy, which includes a programme of reform of government industries.

Mr Jiang was formerly chairman of the state-run China National Petroleum Corp, which has been the target of a sweeping corruption investigation that also has netted four top executives in the past few days. They include three executives at CNPC’s listed subsidiary, PetroChina.

As a full member of the party’s central committee, made up of its top 200 members, Mr Jiang is the most senior official to fall since Mr Xi came to power.

The influential 21st Century Business Herald, citing unnamed “insiders”, made a link between Mr Jiang and the purged former Chongqing Communist Party boss Bo Xilai.

Mr Bo was disgraced after a scandal involving the murder by his wife Gu Kailai of a British businessman and he stood trial for corruption and abuse of power late last month.

There have also been as yet unconfirmed news reports that China’s leaders have taken the unusual step of endorsing a corruption investigation into Zhou Yongkang, a former security tsar and CNPC general manager with a power base in the oil industry

A Politburo meeting last week had drafted a 2013-2017 work plan “for the establishment and improvement of the corruption punishment and prevention system.”

“The party vowed to resolutely stop the spread of corruption, describing it a major mission for the whole party and to strictly deal with discipline violations, said an official statement issued after the meeting,” Xinhua reported.

The investigation into China’s oil giant also has extended to one of the energy industry’s richest self-made entrepreneurs, Hua Bangsong, chairman of Shanghai-based Wison Engineering Services, a PetroChina supplier.