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China anti-corruption investigators target high-level Xinjiang official

2019-08-23 13:33 Friday


China's main anti-graft watchdog said it is investigating a high-level official in the northwest region of Xinjiang, the latest to make the headlines in President Xi Jinping's nationwide campaign against corruption.

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Enwaer Tursun is an ethnic Uighur who worked his way up in his native Xinjiang. In 2017, he rose to the post of deputy secretary-general of the area's People's Congress.

Xinjiang is home to the Uighur minority and some ethnic natives like Tursun have worked alongside members of China's majority Han population to enforce Beijing's policies in the region.

Five years ago, as the mayor of Kashgar, an ancient city on the Silk Road, Tursun backed the Party's crackdown. At the time, he said Xinjiang had been "plagued by religious extremism, which had disrupted social order and fed the ideology of terrorism", according to Xinhua news.

But Tursun is the latest big name to have fallen under suspicion in Xi's sweeping campaign against corruption inside the Party ranks.

Another top Uighur official pleaded guilty at a trial last week to accepting US$ 11.5m in bribes. The case involved former chairman of the Xinjiang region Nur Bekri, who is also a previous head of the national energy administration.

The local office of China's anti-corruption agency said that Tursun, 53, was being investigated for "serious violations of discipline and law". That euphemism usually refers to corruption.

The official "is currently under disciplinary review and supervision investigation" by the region's discipline inspection commission, the agency said in a report.

In another high-profile case, a former chairman of the China Development Bank (CBD), Hu Huaibang, is being investigated for the same charges, according to the national graft-busting agency.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) gave no specific details of which laws or regulations or had been breached.

Hu was with the policy bank since 2013. He was also the top official of the Communist Party at the company. He resigned last September.

The following month, his name emerged during the high-profile graft trial of a party official, Wang Sanyun, who had been the party chief of Gansu province from 2011 to 2017.

In that case, prosecutors said Hu, in his previous role as chairman of Bank of Communications had directed bribes to Wang on behalf of Ye Jianming, the former chairman of the once top-rated conglomerate CEFC China Energy. The details were reported by China’s official broadcaster CCTV in October.

Wang faced accusations of helping CEFC subsidiary CEFC Hainan to obtain US$ 4.8bn in financing from CDB when Hu served as chairman.

CDB is the largest of China’s policy banks. They disburse funds to support the government’s economic strategies. CDB had total assets of 16.18 trillion yuan ($2.35 trillion) at the end of 2018, according to its annual report.

Once fast-growing, CEFC defaulted on bonds last year. Its former chairman Ye was subsequently put under investigation by authorities. It conducted several sales of overseas assets bought in recent years using funds that were borrowed.

Since taking office in 2012, President Xi has implemented a sweeping anti-corruption drive that has ensnared numerous top officials.

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