HONG KONG (Reuters) - China’s top anti-corruption body has punished a former senior official based in Beijing’s representative office in the Asian commercial hub of Hong Kong for what it called “serious disciplinary violations”, the usual euphemism for corruption.
The announcement comes just over a week before the party opens a crucial five-yearly party congress in Beijing, where president Xi Jinping is expected to consolidate power in a closely watched leadership reshuffle.
Li Gang, who spent a decade as the deputy director of Hong Kong’s Liaison Office before being appointed to China’s cabinet, or State Council, was put on probation for one year, the ruling Communist Party’s second most serious disciplinary action.
In a short statement late on Monday, the party’s graft-busting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said it had “approved a report on Li Gang’s serious discipline violation” for which he had been given the probation.
It did not elaborate.
Last year the watchdog sent an official to monitor Beijing’s State Council-level Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office that oversees affairs in the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Li is one of the most senior mainland officials linked to Hong Kong to become ensnared in China’s anti-corruption campaign.
About 1.34 million low-ranking officials have been punished since 2013, the watchdog said on Sunday, in Xi’s nationwide drive against corruption, in which he promised to target both “tigers and flies”.
The crackdown has taken down dozens of senior officials, including the powerful former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang.
In 2012, Li moved from Hong Kong to the neighbouring city of Macau soon after Leung Chun-ying was selected as the territory’s leader following what was widely seen as a mud-slinging election campaign.
Leung, who surprised many in Hong Kong last year by saying he would not seek a second term, now serves as one of the vice chairmen of the largely ceremonial advisory body to China’s parliament.
The Hong Kong Liaison Office recently welcomed a new leader, Wang Zhimin, an official hailing from the southern province of Fujian, where Xi spent almost two decades climbing the political ladder.
Reporting by Venus Wu; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by James Pomfret and Clarence Fernandez