Corruption Probe in Shanghai Expands

The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 26, 2006; 8:59 AM

BEIJING -- A corruption probe that brought down Shanghai's top leader is progressing further, and others might be implicated, a Communist Party anti-graft official said Tuesday.

Chen Liangyu's ouster as Shanghai party secretary Monday was the highest-level purge in a decade and comes amid moves by President Hu Jintao to consolidate his power.

State newspapers splashed the case across their front pages on Tuesday, carrying a dispatch from the official Xinhua News Agency under identical headlines: "Comrade Chen Liangyu Under Investigation for Serious Violations of Party Discipline."

Gan Yisheng, general secretary of the party's Discipline Inspection Commission, promised the inquiry would run its course and anyone else involved would be punished.

"As our investigation progresses, we may find other people who were involved," Gan said at a news conference in Beijing.

"No matter who is involved, we will punish them severely," Gan said in comments shown live on national television. "We exercise zero tolerance toward the violation of regulations and laws."

Chen was implicated in the possible misuse of money from government pension funds to invest in real estate and other projects.

Chen is accused of aiding illegal businesses, shielding corrupt colleagues, and abusing his position to benefit family members, according to Xinhua.

But corruption alone would not have been enough to sink an official at Chen's high level, said Steve Tsang, a China expert at St. Antony's College at Britain's Oxford University.

He said the dismissal allows Hu to shore up his power base by removing a prominent protege of former President Jiang Zemin.

"Shanghai is running its show much more independently than anywhere else, and every now and then Beijing wants to rein Shanghai in," Tsang said. He said Hu is "asserting his authority, essentially saying, If Chen Liangyu can be sacked, who cannot be sacked?"

Gan, the anti-graft official, wouldn't say who else might be implicated. But he pointed to Chen's case as a sign of the ruling party's determination to stamp out corruption.

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