China's corruption crackdown to focus on oil firm: state media
AFPBEIJING--China's corruption inquiry into Jiang Jiemin, the highest-ranking official to be caught up in a crackdown under the new leadership, will focus on a giant state oil firm, state media said on Monday.
September 3, 2013, 12:05 am TWN
An earlier Hong Kong report had highlighted an even more senior figure linked to China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the country's biggest oil producer.
Jiang worked for decades in China's petroleum industry and rose to become chairman of CNPC.
The China Daily quoted a source close to the firm as saying the investigation into Jiang was “related to alleged graft when he was head of the company,” possibly tied to oilfield contracts and “ill-gotten payouts.”
Another former CNPC official, Zhou Yongkang — who went on to become China's security tsar and a member of its highest body, the Politburo Standing Committee — will also face a corruption inquiry, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper reported last week.
If confirmed, Zhou — who retired from the standing committee in a leadership transition last year — would be the most senior official to be investigated in China for decades.
Rumors about the possibility have swirled for months as senior figures from CNPC, which Zhou headed from 1996 to 1998, and from the southwestern province of Sichuan, which he ran from 1999 to 2002, have come under investigation.
Analysts said several different factors could be involved behind the scenes, including political infighting within the factionalized ruling Communist Party.
Whatever the underlying motive, authorities would be likely to tout an inquiry into Zhou as proof of their sincerity in tackling corruption, said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University.
If the leadership wants to illustrate that “everyone can be investigated and prosecuted ... I think Zhou Yongkang is a good test case,” he said.
“Whether they can convince the public is another story, of course, because at that level all the cases are also very political.”
Four senior CNPC executives are already being investigated, officials said last week.