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Recent China research
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How the mighty are fallen – and fight back
After Bo Xilai, another of China’s shooting stars has crashed to earth. Liu Zhiju, the former railways minister who presided over the headlong expansion of the high-speed train network, has been expelled from the Communist Party after being found guilty of corruption, the Party’s Disciplinary Commission announced today.
Find his accomplices. No surprise there. Media reports had made plain that he had been convicted in advance. What was more striking was the long period that has passed since Liu was picked up by the Commission in February, 2011. The supposition must be that the investigators wanted to get full details of the graft with which he was involved, and that a major dragnet will now entrap his associates.
The Discipline Commission found that Liu, who was branded as "morally corrupted", had taken huge bribes and bore the major responsibility for “severe corruption” in the railways system. His illegal gains have been confiscated and he will now be turned over to civil justice procedures. Reporting the decision, Xinhua, the state news agency noted that “the public has long criticized China's railways system as being poorly managed, especially during peak times” and specifically linked Liu’s fall to the high-speed train collision that killed 40 passengers and injured 172 others in Eastern China last July – though it happened five months after Liu was detained.
A matter of central control. As we have noted in reports to subscribers, the toppling of Liu – like that of Bo Xilai – was an effort by the central government to assert its authority on prominent figures who were going their own way in defiance of the government. The railways, again like Chongqing, will continue to grow but at a pace better dictated by Beijing.
Not that those who fall foul of the centre can always be counted on to keep quiet – at least not once the restraints on them are removed.
Chen speaks out. Chen Xitong, the former Communist Party chief of Beijing ousted in 1995 after being seen as a danger by Jiang Zemin, is to challenge the corruption charges on which he was imprisoned for 16 years and denies any major part in the crackdown on the student protests in the capital in 1989. Chen speaks out, according to Reuters, in a book of interviews to be published soon in Hong Kong.
"This was the worst miscarriage of justice involving a high-level leader since the Cultural Revolution or since 1989 - it was an absurd miscarriage of justice," Chen, who was given medical parole in 2004, says of his sentencing, according to Reuters which obtained an advance copy of the book. "In a power struggle, any means possible - any low-handed means - will be used, and the objective is to seize power."