China provincial governor investigated over corruption

Inquiry into former head of state energy giant is seen as part of wider crackdown

A 2012 file photograph of Fujian province governor Su Shulin. Photograph: Reuters

A 2012 file photograph of Fujian province governor Su Shulin. Photograph: Reuters

 

The governor of China’s Fujian province is being investigated for corruption.

China’s top anti-graft watchdog said Su Shulin (53), former head of the state energy giant Sinopec, is being investigated for “suspected serious disciplinary offences”, a common euphemism for corruption.

Mr Su is the latest senior cadre to fall foul of President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on official corruption, taking aim at the wealth accumulated by the powerful “tigers” of the elite and the backhanders palmed to the “flies” at the bottom of the Communist Party.

Mr Su’s last public appearance was on September 30th, when he attended a memorial ceremony to mark Martyrs’ Day in Fuzhou; a day earlier he had visited victims of a typhoon that hit the province.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection did not give further details about Mr Su’s suspected “disciplinary violations”, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Mr Su had been Fujian governor since 2011 and also served as deputy Communist Party chief in Fujian. Because of his relative youth,he had been tipped for going higher in the Communist Party.

Fujian province is a well-known testing ground for senior cadres — Mr Xi was vice-governor there in 1999 and became governor in 2000, earning his stripes dealing with a smuggling scandal as provincial governor.

Sinopec, which was ranked second on Fortune magazine’s Global 500 company list this year, has been central to closed-door political machinations in China in the past year, as the energy industry has been a major focus of the corruption crackdown.

Zhou Yongkang, former security czar and Politburo Standing Committee member, was jailed for life for corruption in June. He was also linked to the company and had strong connections to the oil industry.

Last month, Wang Tianpu, former president of Sinopec, was ousted from the Communist Party for taking bribes and embezzling.

Since Mr Xi made his pledge to fight graft in November 2012, tens of thousands of officials have been arrested and jailed, including Bo Xilai, the former party boss in Dalian and Chongqing who is serving a life sentence for corruption and abuse of power. His wife Gu Kailai was jailed for murder.

Fujian has had its share of corruption scandals over the years.

In the 1990s, the “bandit king” Lai Changxing had scores of police, customs officers and government officials on his payroll as he ran a smuggling empire transporting chemicals, cooking oil, tobacco and cars out of the Fujian port city of Xiamen.

Lai drove around Xiamen in a bulletproof Mercedes and ran the infamous Red Mansion in which he corrupted government officials with alcohol and prostitutes. He later fled to Canada, but returned to jail in China after years on the run.