Mon, Jan 28, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Senior Chinese official under investigation

NOT UNTOUCHABLE:If charged, the official would be only the fourth member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee to be toppled in a corruption scandal since 1995

Reuters, BEIJING

A senior Chinese official is under investigation, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Saturday, in a case that could represent the first time a national political figure has been netted in China’s anti-corruption drive.

Li Jianguo (李建國), a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo Standing Committee and the vice chairman of the National People’s Congress, has not been charged with any offense.

However, Hong Kong-based Ming Pao reported that Li had checked into a Beijing military hospital due to “psychological stress” from the investigation.

If charges do result, Li would be the highest-ranking official snagged in an anti-corruption drive launched by the new party leadership.

Earlier this month, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), who took over the helm of the CCP last fall, said anti-corruption efforts should target low-ranking “flies” as well as powerful “tigers.”

Not all corruption investigations result in charges, and officials rumored to be under investigation often reappear in public in a sign that their case has been cleared.

Li, who is not a widely known political figure, was formerly secretary to Li Ruihuan (李瑞環), a powerful official throughout the 1990s.

He is considered close to the Communist Youth League, the power base for Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), and was only named to the politburo in November last year.

He spent many years as party secretary of Shaanxi Province before a brief stint as party secretary of Shandong Province.

If charged, Li would be only the fourth member of the politburo, a powerful grouping of only 25 senior party members, to be toppled in a corruption scandal since 1995.

The anti-corruption drive has so far implicated mostly regional officials, including the deputy party boss of Sichuan Province, Li Chuncheng (李春城), who had for many years overseen development of the province’s prosperous capital, Chengdu.

A construction magnate has also been detained in that case.

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