Aug 25, 2014 05:14 PM

More Officials in Scandal-Hit Shanxi Come under CDIC Scrutiny


Nie Chunyu(left), Chen Chuanping(right)

(Beijing) – More high-level officials in the coal-rich northern province of Shanxi have run afoul of graft fighters recently, as the Communist Party's Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC) says it is investigating two more leaders.

The CDIC said on its website on August 23 that Chen Chuanping, a member of province's party standing committee and the party chief of the provincial capital of Taiyuan, and Nie Chunyu, secretary general of the same standing committee, were placed under investigation for "serious violations of discipline and law."

The party's graft fighter uses the phrase to mean corruption.

The administration of Xi Jinping launched a campaign against corruption in late 2012, and Shanxi Province has been one of the focal points. Counting Chen and Nie, five high-level officials in the province have become the subjects of inquiries. The other three – Jin Daoming, former vice chairman of the provincial legislature's standing committee, Du Shanxue, vice provincial governor, and Ling Zhengce, the vice chairman of Shanxi's top political advisory body – have lost their jobs.

Both Chen and Nie appeared in public on August 22, the day before the CDIC announced it was investigating them. Their sudden downfall – an investigation is usually career-ending – were unsurprising to many in the Shanxi government.

"Over the past few decades, interests became entangled in the coal industry and there is great room for rent-seeking behavior," one source said, referring to an official using his position as a source of profit. "From the central level of government to the local, many officials have been involved."

Chen, 52, spent 26 years in state-owned Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group) Co. Ltd. In February 2000, he was named general manager of the company. The next year he rose to chairman.

During his tenure, Chen pushed for improved quality control and for expansion that saw the company become the world's largest producer of stainless steel. In 2007, it reported revenue of more than 100 billion yuan and profits of 9.6 billion yuan. That year, Chen was named an alternate to the Central Committee, the party's nexus of national power.

Chen became an official in January 2008 when he was appointed vice governor of the province. The position put him in charge of overseeing industry development, work safety, social security and the managing of state-owned assets.

A source close to Taiyuan Iron & Steel said the company is performing an internal audit.

In 2010, Chen succeeded Shen Weichen as party chief of Taiyuan. Shen, who became a vice minister of publicity, was placed under investigation in April. Sources close to the matter say the inquiry is linked to his time in Shanxi.

A source close to Chen said he had a close relationship with Ling, the former vice chairman of the provincial political consultative conference who became the target of a probe in mid-June. Ling headed the Shanxi development and reform office from April 2004 to April 2008. The office decides how the coal reserves in the province – about one-quarter of the nation's total – are exploited and sold.

Nie, 59, has since 1984 worked for the provincial party committee, the party's highest decision-making body in Shanxi. He started as a low-level official in 1984. From 2003 to early 2011, he headed the party committee of Luliang, a city in central Shanxi.

He was named a member of the province's party standing committee in 2011, and two years later, he became secretary general of the standing committee.

Several officials and businessmen in Luliang have become targets of party investigations since the beginning this year, including Ding Xuefeng, former mayor of Luliang, and Zhang Zhongsheng, the city's former vice mayor. Both worked with Nie for about eight years.

Nie had close ties with Xing Libin, chairman of a private coal miner named Shanxi Liansheng Energy Co., several sources in the Shanxi government said. Police detained Xing in March.

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