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China arrests Shanghai ex-official over graft

BEIJING--Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign is turning its focus to the power base of his predecessor Jiang Zemin, with prosecutors in Shanghai announcing a former official's arrest for corruption.

Businessman Wang Zongnan was put under investigation two weeks ago for suspected embezzlement of public funds and bribe-taking when he headed two state-controlled retail chains, Shanghai prosecutors said in a statement Monday.

Authorities approved his arrest on Monday, it said.

Wang was once an aide to former Shanghai Communist party chief Chen Liangyu, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2008 for bribery and abuse of power.

China's financial capital has long been seen as Jiang's turf — he was once its party chief himself and his faction in the ruling party is known as the “Shanghai Gang.”

Chen was widely considered a close associate and political ally of the former president.

Dozens of senior officials have fallen since President Xi Jinping came into power in 2012 and pledged to root out high-ranking “tigers” as well as low-level “flies” in his much-publicized anti-graft sweep.

But analysts say there have been no systematic changes that could root out corruption fundamentally, and the purges are driven by internal politics within the factionalized ruling party.

Zhou Yongkang, who wielded control of China's police, courts, jails and domestic surveillance until his retirement from the elite Politburo Standing Committee in 2012, became the biggest “tiger” snared so far after the declaration of a probe into him last month.

Zhou — also seen as a Jiang ally — is the most senior member of the Communist Party to be investigated since the infamous Gang of Four, a faction that included the widow of founding leader Mao Zedong, were put on trial in 1980.

State media have announced a two-month investigation of Shanghai by officers of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party's internal watchdog.

Chinese media reports said the arrest of Wang, who retired last year as chairman of state-owned Bright Food Group, “may be the beginning of the anti-corruption storm in Shanghai.”

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