Manager of China aircraft carrier builder under graft probe

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China has launched a corruption investigation into the general manager of the state-owned firm responsible for building aircraft carriers, a potential complication in ambitious plans to modernise its navy.

Mr Sun Bo is being probed for “suspicion of serious breach of the party discipline and the law”, Communist Party watchdog the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a brief online statement late on Saturday (June 16).

Sun built his career in shipbuilding in Dalian, specialising in maritime design and manufacturing. He joined the party leadership at CSIC in 2009, while also serving as chairman of Dalian Shipyard Group.

Mr Sun, 57,  was appointed general manager in 2015, and ranks second to chairman Hu Wenming.

Collin Koh, a research fellow in maritime security at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said it was unlikely to have any significant affect on Beijing’s maritime strategy.

“Xi has made it necessary for China not only to build a strong PLA Navy – as he emphasised during his visit to a submarine base in Qingdao – but also to build a strong maritime economy”, he said, adding that this would mean maintaining the current momentum within the shipbuilding industry.

The country’s first domestically built aircraft carrier started sea trials last month.

The carrier, known only as “Type 001A”, is expected to be commissioned by 2020, giving China a second aircraft carrier as it asserts its extensive claims in the South China Sea and seeks to deter any independence movements in Taiwan.

It is unclear whether the investigation into Mr Sun will have an impact on the new carrier’s status.

China’s first carrier, the Liaoning, is a secondhand Soviet ship built nearly 30 years ago and commissioned in 2012.

President Xi Jinping has pursued a highly-publicised anti-corruption drive since taking office in 2012, vowing to go after both senior “tigers” and low-level “flies”.

AFP & Other Sources

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