China's drive against graft pushes into Jiang's turf

China's drive against graft pushes into Jiang's turf
ARRESTED: Wang was under investigation for suspected embezzlement of public funds and bribe-taking.

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 yesterday.

The authorities approved his arrest yesterday, 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 Mr 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 Mr Xi came to power in 2012 and pledged to root out high-ranking "tigers" as well as low-level "flies" in his much-publicised anti-graft sweep.

But analysts said there have been no systematic changes that could root out corruption fundamentally, and the purges are driven by internal politics within the factionalised 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. He is also seen as a Jiang ally.

State media has 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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