China’s top graft buster under investigation for corruption

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The head of the anti-graft committee for China’s Ministry of Finance has been put under investigation for suspected graft, said the ruling Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog yesterday.

Mr Mo Jiancheng was suspected of “serious discipline breaches”, a euphemism for graft, said the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in a statement.

Mr Mo, who became the top graft buster for the Finance Ministry in December 2015, was also a member of the ministry’s party committee and previously served as deputy party secretary and vice-governor of Jiangxi province.

China is in the midst of a crackdown on graft launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping after he assumed power more than four years ago and tried to return the party to its traditional values of serving the people selflessly, following a series of graft and extravagance scandals.

The campaign has targeted government officials, state-owned enterprises and the military, and the fallout has affected everything from the prices of luxury goods in Hong Kong to gambling revenue in Macau, as wealthy Chinese cut back on conspicuous spending to avoid attracting suspicion.

Mr Xi has vowed to continue with his campaign until he has cleared the Communist Party of both high- and low-level graft, which he warns could threaten the party’s existence.

Inspection teams have been a core feature of the campaign, parachuted by central authorities into provinces or institutions to tackle entrenched corruption, in theory immune from bribery and pressure by local officials.

Among the so-called “tigers”, meaning officials at a vice-ministerial level or above, snared by the campaign were Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief who was sentenced to life in prison in June 2015, Ling Jihua, former top aide of Mr Xi’s predecessor, and two former deputy commanders-in-chief of the People’s Liberation Army, Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong.

In 2015, 26 “tigers” were placed under investigation for alleged corruption, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Along with his fight against corruption, Mr Xi has also been reining in overt dissent by party members on key issues as he seeks to enforce party discipline, especially on tackling graft. New party rules unveiled last year included banning “baseless comments” on major policies.

The CCDI has in recent months made efforts to show it is serious about tackling corruption within its own ranks, which it refers to as “darkness hiding beneath the light”.

Straitstimes | Xinhua

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