Peking city's former Communist Party boss has been expelled from the party and his case turned over for criminal prosecution in China's highest- level corruption scandal.
The party's discipline unit said yesterday that Chen Xitong, 67, had embezzled valuable items, squandered public funds, abused his position to help relatives, supported a "corrupt and decadent life", and was largely responsible for the criminal activities of the city's vice-mayor, Wang Baosen, who shot himself in April 1995.
The Chen case has intrigued the Chinese public ever since he was removed from his job as Peking's unpopular party secretary immediately after the Wang Baosen suicide. An internal report accused Mr Chen of illegally amassing pounds 15m of public funds and at least nine city apartments which were distributed to his mistress's family. Yesterday's announcement said Mr Chen had "completely discredited himself as a communist". When the scandal broke in 1995, it soon became clear that the highest echelons of the Peking party and government structures were riddled with corruption and that many people must have been aware of this. The late Mr Wang was said to be at the centre of a pounds 25m corruption inquiry. In a country where people last year were executed for petty crimes such as VAT receipt fraud and cattle rustling, failure by the authorities to take decisive action against Mr Chen for more than two years was seen as further proof that the anti-corruption crackdown was not tackling the big fish. The timing of yesterday's announcement was linked to the Communist Party Congress which starts on Friday, a gathering which takes place only once every five years. The run-up to the congress is a time for China to clear the decks of political embarrassments. President Jiang Zemin, who needs this congress to put the seal on his supreme leadership status, will hope to improve his popularity by taking action against Mr Chen. In surveys, Chinese people regularly put the country's endemic corruption top of their list of grievances. …