Shenzhen (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Disgraced former Shenzhen mayor Xu Zongheng has been stripped of his Communist Party membership and official position, paving the way for his prosecution on corruption charges.
The Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection completed the official procedures yesterday to remove Xu from all his posts for "severe violations of discipline and the law”.
The party’s anti-corruption watchdog found that Xu had abused his office to make profits for others, accepted large amounts of money in return and led a "corrupt life". It also ruled that his illegal earnings would be confiscated and that his case would be transferred to the courts for prosecution.
Xu, 55, became the mayor of Shenzhen, China’s top industrial and technological hub, in 2005. His career came to a crashing end in April 2009 when his top political aide, Chen Shaoji, was arrested on corruption charges. Last month, Chen was sentenced to death, but the execution was suspended.
Last year, Xu also lost his seat as a member of the National People’s Congress, mainland China’s parliament.
Corruption is a cancer that is eating away at China’s political life. In a country where the state controls 70 per cent of the economy, rampant corruption costs the state up to 3 per cent of GDP.
So serious is the crisis that in the recent past, President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao warned Communist officials that corruption could undermine the very existence of the Communist Party.
In order to stem the tide, some experts have called for greater internal party democracy to prevent corrupt members from rising to positions of power. However, the debate over the issue has bogged down. Last June, the Party did nevertheless issue new anti-corruption guidelines, which now require party members to declare all their possessions and those of their family.
As a sign of the times, the Asia Times newspaper reported on 23 September 2009 the story of a six-year-old girl in Guangzhou, who, when asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, said, “I want to become a corrupt official.” Why? “Because mama says a corrupt official can have many, many things at home”.