China’s industry minister faces corruption probe

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Beijing (AFP) – China’s industry and information technology minister is under investigation for alleged corruption, state media reported on Thursday, the latest senior executive to be ensnared by Beijing’s sweeping crackdown.

Xiao Yaqing is one of the biggest names caught up in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, and the investigation into him comes ahead of a key leadership summit this fall where the Chinese leader will seek to cement his grip on power.

Seemingly a crackdown on corruption, critics say the broad campaign launched right after Xi came to power in 2012 has also served to weed out those who criticize the all-powerful leader or are seen as a threat.

Xiao faces charges of “violation of 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 a widespread crackdown on Chinese tech companies, which Beijing fears wield too much power due to lax regulations.

A businessman-turned-politician, Xiao began his career in the early 1980s at a factory in northeast China’s rust belt as an engineer, then rose through the ranks to lead the Administration of State for Market Regulation, which determines the main market rules in China.

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

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

Chief regulators, insurance giants, security officials and financiers are just a few of the bigwigs who have recently faced censorship or lawsuits in the fight against corruption. corruption, although it is rare for a minister to be investigated while still in office.

The vast majority of personalities investigated for corruption end up being convicted.

Former justice minister Fu Zhenghua was tried earlier this month on “suspicions of accepting bribes and breaking the law for personal gain”, the agency reported. Xinhua official press.

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 admitted on state television that he received a series of kickbacks worth $14 million, hidden in boxes of what appeared to be seafood.

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

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