China Widens Anti-Graft Drive in Shanxi

China stepped up a campaign against graft in coal-rich Shanxi province, putting two top officials under investigation amid a probe that’s already ensnared the brother of an aide to former President Hu Jintao.

Ren Runhou, a vice governor and former head of Shanxi Luan Mining Group Co., and Bai Yun, a member of the provincial Communist Party standing committee, are being investigated for serious violations of discipline and law, the party’s anti-graft watchdog said in separate statements on Aug. 29, using a phrase that signals a corruption probe.

The announcements were made a week after two top officials in the coal-rich region were caught in President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on graft that started after he took over as Communist Party chief in November 2012. The campaign last month snared former security chief Zhou Yongkang, who disappeared from public view in October, and in June claimed Xu Caihou, a former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, the country’s highest military body.

The Central Discipline and Inspection Commission said on Aug. 23 that Chen Chuanping and Nie Chunyu, members of Shanxi’s party standing committee, were being investigated. Chen was also party chief of Taiyuan, the provincial capital. The watchdog in June announced it was investigating another vice governor, Du Shanxue.

Ren, 56, a native of Shanxi province, was appointed vice governor in June 2011 and was previously chairman of Shanxi Luan, a state-owned coal mining company based in Changzhi, a city about 315 miles (505 kilometers) southwest of Beijing, according to a biography on the Shanxi government website. His name was not on the list of vice governors on the website yesterday, which now shows five people with that title.

First Woman

Bai, 53, was head of the provincial United Front Work Department,a body that oversees the Communist Party’s relations with other political and overseas groups, according to a biography on the People’s Daily website. She was previously party secretary of Yuncheng city in Shanxi.

Bai is the first woman among 48 officials with provincial-level ranking or higher who’ve been caught in Xi’s anti-graft drive, according to a report in the Beijing Youth Daily yesterday. Of the 48, seven were working in Shanxi when investigations were announced while one had previously held positions in the province, the paper said.

Shanxi has “the highest concentration of tigers” brought down since the 18th party congress that appointed Xi as party chief, the paper said, using a term that refers to powerful officials. Four of the 13 members of the Shanxi party standing committee are now under investigation, it said. The committee is the province’s top governing body.

Crackdown Support

Li Xiaopeng, the governor of Shanxi, in June pledged support for the crackdown after the discipline commission announced a probe into Ling Zhengce, vice chairman of the province’s political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. According to a 2007 article by the Southern Metropolis, he is an older brother of Ling Jihua, who was personal secretary to Hu when he was president and was also chief of the Communist Party General Office, which oversees security for the country’s top leaders.

Ling Jihua was moved from the office and appointed head of the United Front Work Department in August 2012, three months before Hu relinquished power as head of the party.

— With assistance by William Bi

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