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China’s industry minister faces a corruption probe

#Chinas #industry #minister #faces #corruption #probe

China’s Minister of Industry and Information Technology is under investigation over alleged corruption, state media reported Thursday, the latest senior cadres trapped by Beijing’s sweeping crackdown.

Xiao Yaqing is among the biggest names implicated in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, and the investigation into him comes ahead of a key leadership summit this fall, at which the Chinese leader will seek to consolidate his power.

Allegedly a crackdown on corruption, critics say the wide-ranging campaign launched shortly after Xi took power in 2012 has also helped remove those who criticize the all-powerful leader or are seen as a threat.

Xiao faces charges of “violating discipline and the law” and “is currently under review and investigation,” state broadcaster CCTV said, without giving further details.

His fall from grace comes amid widespread crackdowns on Chinese tech companies Beijing fears wield too much power over lax regulations.

A businessman-turned-politician, Xiao began his career as an engineer on a factory floor in northeast China’s Rust Belt in the early 1980s, then worked his way up to head the state administration for market regulation, which sets the main market rules in China.

In July 2020, he was appointed to the top position at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which decides on key issues including China’s roadmap to electric vehicle industry dominance and the country’s ambitious 5G communications network plan.

The ministry also played a key role in the now-defunct Made in China 2025 policy, which outlined Beijing’s plans to dominate 10 cutting-edge technologies, from artificial intelligence to robotics.

Regulators, insurance giants, security officials and financiers are just a few of the bigwigs who have faced censure or prosecution in the recent wave of corruption, although it is rare for a minister to face an investigation while in office.

The vast majority of figures identified for corruption are eventually convicted.

Former Justice Minister Fu Zhenghua was put on trial earlier this month on “alleged bribery and perverting the law for personal gain,” the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

And former Deputy Public Security Minister Sun Lijun, who oversaw security in Hong Kong during months of unrest in 2019, was arrested in April 2020.

He later confessed on state television that he received a string of $14 million worth of bribes hidden in boxes of what appeared to be seafood.

The former chairman of Huarong – one of China’s largest state-controlled wealth management firms – Lai Xiaomin was executed in January 2021 for receiving “extremely large” bribes.

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