April 14, 2017 / 12:52 AM / 4 months ago

China's Hebei vows to learn lessons from new graft probe

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The Communist Party in China's smog-hit Hebei province said it will "learn lessons" after one of its highest-ranking officials was placed under investigation for serious disciplinary violations, which usually serves as a code for corruption.

Provincial party leaders said they must treat the investigation into Yang Chongyong, chairman of the provincial Party Congress, as an "alarm bell" reminding them to maintain discipline, the provincial government website (www.hebei.gov.cn) said late on Thursday.

China's graft watchdog announced earlier this week that Yang, also head of the provincial party organisation committee and former vice-governor of Hebei, had been charged with disciplinary offences, though it provided no details.

The provincial party chief, Zhao Kezhi, said Hebei must "resolutely support" the decision to put Yang under investigation, adding that serious challenges remain when it came to fighting corruption in the province.

Neither Yang nor his representatives could be reached for comment. The vice-governor was a member of the provincial delegation at China's full-session of parliament in March, where he lobbied the central government for additional financial support in its fight against pollution.

Zhao's predecessor as provincial party head, Zhou Benshun, was dismissed and jailed for 15 years after a court determined he and his family had received more than 40 million yuan (£4.64 million) in bribes. He was also accused of involvement in "superstition".

Hebei officials had been subject to scathing criticism for pursuing a growth-at-all-costs economic model and for failing to implement central government regulations, especially when it comes to tackling overcapacity and waging war on pollution.

Chinese president Xi Jinping has pursued a relentless campaign against deep-rooted corruption since assuming power, vowing to go after powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Michael Perry

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