China's statistics chief under probe, says anti-graft watchdog

China's National Bureau of Statistics chief Wang Baoan holding a press briefing on the economy yesterday. Just hours later, the anti-corruption watchdog announced that he was being investigated.
China's National Bureau of Statistics chief Wang Baoan holding a press briefing on the economy yesterday. Just hours later, the anti-corruption watchdog announced that he was being investigated. PHOTO: XINHUA

BEIJING • The head of China's National Bureau of Statistics is being investigated for alleged discipline violations, the ruling Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog said yesterday, the latest top official to be implicated in a corruption crackdown.

The official, Wang Baoan, was "suspected of serious violation of discipline", said the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) in a short statement on its website. It did not provide details. In the past, the use of such wording about violations has generally referred to corruption.

The announcement came hours after Wang held a press briefing on the economy. He could not be reached for comment.

Wang was deputy finance minister from 2012 until April 2015, when he took up the powerful post of statistics bureau chief, according to details on the CCDI website.

President Xi Jinping has embarked on a sweeping campaign to root out deeply ingrained corruption since assuming office three years ago, warning, like others before him, that the problem was so bad that it could affect the party's grip on power.

The campaign has targeted a broad swathe of high-ranking officials, from members of the military to former judges, various ministry chiefs and numerous bosses of state-owned companies.

This month, a former vice-public security minister, Li Dongsheng, was jailed for 15 years for corruption offences.

The CCDI conducted inspections of 26 institutions from June to September last year, with many cases of bribery, nepotism and violations of the party's frugality rules discovered, Xinhua news agency said yesterday.

It said the institutions included the Taiwan Affairs Office, the Ministry of Transport, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp and the People's Daily newspaper .

In a related development, the former head of brokerage firm Changjiang Securities committed suicide yesterday, just weeks after the company said he was under investigation by the authorities.

Yang Zezhu apparently jumped from a 12-storey residential building in the central city of Wuhan yesterday afternoon after leaving a suicide note, Xinhua said on its microblog. Police are investigating the case.

Early this month, Changjiang Securities said in a statement to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange that Yang was being investigated by the corruption watchdog for suspected violations of discipline.

Yang stepped down soon afterwards as both chairman and party chief of the securities firm, a mid-sized brokerage that was ranked 17th by assets nationwide in 2014. He previously headed a Hubei provincial government agency that oversaw state assets.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE,XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'China's statistics chief under probe, says anti-graft watchdog'. Print Edition | Subscribe