Beijing has formally approved the arrest of Wang Yong, a former leader of Hainan, signalling it aims to weed out corruption in the southern province that has been designated as the country’s largest free-trade zone.
The Supreme People’s Procuratorate arrested the former vice-chairman of the Hainan Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on suspicion of taking bribes, Xinhua reported on Thursday.
The report gave no other details of Wang’s alleged crimes but said he had been “expelled from the Communist Party and removed from public office over serious violations of party discipline and laws”.
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
The 64-year-old native of eastern Shandong province is expected to face trial soon.
In expelling him from the Communist Party earlier this month, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s top anti-corruption agency, said Wang had violated frugality rules by frequenting private clubs, had traded power for personal gain and accepted huge amounts of bribes.
Wang had served in Hainan for almost three decades and was mayor of the city of Sanya for over six years from 2008. He was later promoted to the provincial government as head of the United Front Work Department before he retired to the People’s Consultative Conference, an advisory body, five years ago.
He was put under investigation in July following the fall of Zhang Qi, the former Communist Party secretary of the Hainan city of Haikou. Zhang was sentenced to life in prison last year for accepting more than 107 million yuan (US$16.5 million) in bribes. Another senior provincial leader investigated was Tong Daochi, a former party secretary of the city of Sanya.
Nearly 18 senior officials in Hainan have been snared since 2019, according to official reports.
Xie Maosong, a professor of political science at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said Sanya was the focus for many investment projects, especially in real estate.
“Many officials in Hainan have fallen as a result of the anti-corruption campaign,” he said.
He said he expected the campaign to continue as Hainan had been tasked to grow its tourism industry, expand its servicing, health care and technology sectors, and become China’s biggest zero-tariff zone by 2025.
The booming property market provided plenty of opportunities for corruption, he said.
“For Hainan to become a free-trade port, Beijing will have to weed out these corrupt elements,” Xie said.
“The high-profile handling of Wang Yong’s case is meant to show Beijing’s determination to set the rules for officials and give confidence to the people and foreign investors.”
Wang was investigated despite being over the usual retirement age for officials. Retired officials suspected of corruption are often overlooked by the anti-corruption watchdog.
“Now there is lifelong accountability and retirement doesn’t mean safety,” Xie said. “The treatment of Wang Yong and other officials is meant to deter other officials.”
More from South China Morning Post:
This article China approves arrest of former Hainan official on corruption charges first appeared on South China Morning Post