Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Hu appeals to party for solidarity

FIGHTING CORRUPTION Nearly a month after the party boss in Shanghai was sacked, it was China's 16th richest man's turn to be hit by the crackdown

AGENCIES , BEIJING AND SHANGHAI

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) appealed yesterday to 70 million members of the Chinese Communist Party to show solidarity, almost a month after ousting a political ally of predecessor Jiang Zemin (江澤民).

Hu made the call yesterday in his first joint public appearance with Jiang since the Sept. 24 dismissal of Chen Liangyu (陳良宇) as party boss of Shanghai -- Jiang's political stronghold -- in a continuing crackdown on corruption.

"We should resolutely maintain and strengthen solidarity of the whole party," Hu told a gathering at Beijing's Great Hall of the People marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the epic Long March by Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) Communist forces during China's long civil war.

State television broadcast Hu's speech live. It showed footage of both Hu and Jiang but not of them standing together.

Cool relations

The pair have had cool relations for several years. Analysts say Jiang feels that Hu has dimmed his achievements and influence in a drive to steer China's development away from the booming east coast, including Shanghai, to poor inland regions.

Sources said Jiang had agreed to Chen's removal in order to protect other political allies and relatives under investigation.

Beijing has sent more than 100 anti-corruption investigators to Shanghai to investigate money reportedly drained from the city's 10 billion yuan (US$1.25 billion) social security fund for illicit loans and investments.

As a result, Chen was dismissed as Shanghai party boss and lost his seat in the 24-member Politburo, the first member of the party's decisionmaking body to be sacked since 1995 when the Beijing party chief Chen Xitong (陳希同) was purged and jailed for corruption.

"We should consciously resist money worship, hedonism and extreme individualism and other negative decadent erosion of ideology and culture," Hu said.

Crackdown

As part of the crackdown, authorities have detained one of China's wealthiest men in the first formal arrest linked to Shanghai's snowballing pension fund scandal.

Tycoon Zhang Rongkun (張榮坤) -- ranked the 16th richest man in China by Forbes magazine last year -- was arrested by "relevant law enforcement authorities," his own firm Fuxi Investment Holding Co said in a brief announcement released on Saturday.

Zhang, 33, had reportedly been under house arrest since July for his alleged part in the disappearance of 3.2 billion yuan belonging to the municipality's retirement fund.

Fuxi did not list the charges levelled against Zhang.

But previous state press reports said the former textile trader, who made his fortune in toll roads, had been under investigation over unauthorized real estate and highway investment deals involving approximately US$400 million which were allegedly siphoned off from Shanghai's pension fund.

In August, Zhang was dismissed from his post as a non-executive director of Shanghai Electric Group Co over the scandal.

Six days ago he lost his seat on the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Earlier this month, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics, Qiu Xiaohua (邱曉華), a ministerial level official, was also sacked in connection with the probe.

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