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Filling of vacant seats begins in graft-riddled Shanxi province

Updated: 2015-03-25 07:45
By Zhang Yi (China Daily)

Sixteen government officials have been appointed in coal-rich Shanxi province to fill the power vacuum left by the campaign to root out corruption.

The nationwide anti-graft effort that began in late 2012 snared a long list of officials in charge of distributing coal resources in Shanxi. Many of the dozens of positions that had been held by top officials who were brought down in the campaign remain vacant.

Seven province-level officials were investigated, along with 45 city-level officials last year.

A total of 15,450 officials were disciplined in Shanxi last year.

Shanxi emerged as a major front in the country's anti-corruption war last year, with one-third of its decision-making bodies entangled in corruption.

The newly appointed officials will fill the vacant positions in the city of Lyuliang and the province's transportation department, but no detailed information about those positions was available.

In Lyuliang, where economic growth has relied heavily on the mining of coking coal, two former Party chiefs, six officials at city level, including the former mayor, Ding Xuefeng, and 10 businessmen have been placed under investigation since June.

Three of the seven corrupt provincial-level officials had held top positions in the city.

One mine operator, Xin Libin, the owner of a large business in Lyuliang, gained nationwide notoriety after it was reported that he had spent nearly 70 million yuan ($11 million) on his daughter's wedding in 2012, a ceremony that dozens of local officials are said to have attended.

Xin, one of the richest people in China, found himself in the spotlight of investigators in March. A flurry of other corruption investigations followed.

In the province's transportation department, Duan Jianguo, head of the department, and his predecessor, Wang Xiaolin, were placed under investigation on corruption charges last year, and a number of other officials in the department were implicated in a series of corruption cases.

Wang Rulin, Party chief of the province, met with the newly appointed officials on Monday, saying that special attention will be paid to them because they are the first group of government officials to be scrutinized and chosen under a strict selection process.

He said the anti-corruption body, as well as the organization department of the province, worked together and completed a comprehensive investigation into the officials' backgrounds and social connections to ensure that they are qualified for the positions. Wang, a former Jilin province Party chief, was appointed to an equivalent position in Shanxi province in August, marking the start of a new effort to clean up the government.

An estimated 300 positions at the mayoral level are yet to be filled, according to information released at the meeting with Wang.


(China Daily 03/25/2015 page3)

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