Thu, Oct 23, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Member of China's Cabinet reportedly removed for graft

AP , BEIJING

A Chinese Cabinet minister has been removed from a top Communist Party post, and a Hong Kong newspaper with close ties to Beijing says he's the target of a corruption investigation.

The Ministry of Land and Resources refused yesterday to confirm the Wen Wei Po's report that Tian Fengshan (田鳳山) is under investigation for unspecified "misuse of land." But the official Xinhua News Agency said Tian's deputy has replaced him as the ministry's party secretary -- a more important post than that of minister itself.

Tian is the second Cabinet minister to lose his party post since President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) took office in March, promising greater official accountability. The health minister resigned in April after losing his party post amid accusations that he mishandled China's outbreak of SARS.

A corruption case against Tian would be China's highest-level graft scandal since the deputy chairman of its parliament was executed in 2000 on charges of taking bribes.

Tuesday's Wen Wei Po report said that the newspaper had no details of accusations again Tian, but that they might stem from his earlier term as acting governor of the northeastern Heilongjiang Province. It cited only "relevant officials of the ministry."

The government owns all the land in China, and local officials are frequently accused of abusing their posts to make illegal deals with developers.

Residents' complaints that they receive inadequate compensation for being forced from their homes have led to public protests in several areas around the country.

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