December 19, 2014 / 7:27 AM / in 4 years

China official who spoke out on graft faces corruption inquiry

BEIJING (Reuters) - A senior Chinese official who vigorously backed President Xi Jinping’s fight against corruption has himself been caught up in a graft investigation, state media and the government said.

Wang Min, Communist Party boss of Jinan city, is under investigation for suspected “serious breaches of the law and discipline”, the party’s graft watchdog said in a statement late on Thursday, using a euphemism for corruption.

It was not possible to reach Wang for comment.

Jinan, about 300 km (185 miles) south of Beijing, is the capital of Shandong province. Wang also sits on the provincial party committee, equivalent to its ruling council.

The state-run Beijing Youth Daily said on Friday Wang had recently been speaking out on the need for clean government, giving a speech on the subject as recently as Thursday morning.

He had also led an inspection tour of government departments this month to ensure they were following orders on how to fight corruption, the newspaper added.

Wang, 58, is the most senior official from Shandong to face a graft investigation. The coastal province is home to many foreign-invested companies and factories, particularly from Japan and South Korea.

Xi has vowed to go after corrupt officials and improve the legal system as he tries to restore faith in the ruling Communist Party after a slew of high-profile graft and abuse-of-power cases angered the public.

The government this month announced the arrest of former public security chief Zhou Yongkang, one of China’s most powerful politicians of the last decade, on corruption and other charges.

Separately, the Xinhua state news agency said Xiao Shaoxiang, former deputy head of the Beijing Zoo, had been jailed for life for taking bribes and embezzlement.

Xiao pocketed money meant for renovation projects for animal enclosures and asked for kickbacks from construction companies, Xinhua said. He also had an 8 million yuan (£820,545) fortune he was unable to explain, it added.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Robert Birsel

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