Tue, Dec 31, 2013 - Page 6 News List

China holds ex-security chief’s protege over graft

AFP, BEIJING

A former close colleague of former Chinese chief of internal security Zhou Yongkang (周永康) is under investigation for “law and discipline violations,” authorities have announced, as they step up anticorruption inquiries another notch.

Li Chongxi (李崇禧), chairman of the Sichuan Province Political Consultative Conference — a debating chamber that is part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-controlled governmental structure — is being probed for “suspected severe violation of discipline and the law,” the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said.

The phrase is commonly used as a euphemism for corruption.

No further details were provided in the announcement on Sunday.

Li, 62, was the chief secretary of the CCP’s Sichuan Provinicial Committee while Zhou was the province’s party secretary from 1999 to 2002, according to the two officials’ biographies on state-run news portals cpc.people.com.cn and xinhuanet.cn.

Li was promoted to vice party secretary of the province in 2002, before assuming other posts and then his current position at the ministerial level this year.

He has become at least the 18th official at vice ministerial level or above to fall since a once-in-a-decade power transition in November last year that anointed Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) as the party’s general secretary and head of state.

Among the 18, at least five are believed to have been proteges of Zhou, who was one of China’s most influential politicians over the past decade, having served on the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee and headed the Central Political and Legislative Committee.

The New York Times earlier this month cited “sources with elite political ties” as saying that Xi has given the go-ahead for a corruption investigation into Zhou.

Such a probe would be the first time in decades that such a high-ranking figure has been targeted in a formal inquiry and would send shockwaves through China’s elite.

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