A powerful economic planning official has been expelled from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and removed from public office over allegations of corruption that were first made by a prominent journalist.
The downfall of Liu Tienan (劉鐵男), an official of vice ministerial rank, marks a rare victory for those among the Chinese public who want ordinary citizens to be granted a bigger role in exposing high-level graft. It also signals the growing influence of social media in China.
“Liu Tienan is the most senior government official who has been punished after being reported by someone on the Internet,” said Liu Shanying (劉山鷹), a politics researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. “It is a breakthrough and we are going to see more similar cases like that.”
Though officials routinely vow to crack down on the rampant graft that pervades the Chinese Communist Party and the government, the party would prefer to retain control over the process, in part to keep unseemly details out of the public eye.
The party’s anti-graft agency said on Thursday that an investigation had found that Liu, former deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, took bribes and abused his power.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement on the Ministry of Supervision’s Web site that it would confiscate Liu Tienan’s “unlawful gains” and hand his case over to prosecutors.
Liu Tienan “took advantage of his position to seek profits for others, and both Liu [Tienan] and his family accepted a huge amount of bribes,” the statement said.
The disciplinary agency also called Liu Tienan “morally degenerate.”
Liu Tienan’s case is unusual because allegations were first leveled against him by well-known Chinese journalist Luo Changping (羅昌平), a deputy editor-in-chief of Caijing magazine, on his microblog in December last year.
The reporter accused Liu Tienan of having shady ties with a businessman and being involved in problematic bank loans.