Senior official in China's Hubei faces graft probe

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China is investigating a senior provincial official for graft, the ruling Communist Party's corruption watchdog said on Wednesday, making him the latest target amid a crackdown on corruption.

Mr Guo Youming, the vice governor of the central province of Hubei, is "suspected of serious discipline violations" and is being investigated, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a one-line statement on its website.

It gave no further details but in China the term discipline violations is generally used to denote corruption.

Mr Guo is a long-time official in Hubei where he served in the water management bureau and as party secretary in Yichang city, near the S$74 billion Three Gorges Dam project.

His official biography says he was in charge of "follow-up work" on the dam, relocation, as well as elements of the controversial North-South Water Transfer Project, which aims to divert river water to the country's industrialised north.

President Xi Jinping has said endemic corruption threatens the party's very survival and has vowed to go after high-flying "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".

Spearheading the crackdown is Mr Wang Qishan, who warned party investigators last month their jobs were on the line if they failed to root out corruption, urging them to inspire "shock and awe" in their targets.

Authorities have already announced the investigation or arrest of a handful of senior officials, among them former officials of oil giant PetroChina, in what appears to be the biggest graft probe into a state-run firm in years.

In May, Mr Liu Tienan, the former deputy head of China's top planning agency, was removed from his post after online accusations of corruption were posted against him, and a criminal investigation began in August.

Corruption by government officials stokes public discontent, but critics say it will be impossible to truly weed out graft until high-ranking officials are forced to disclose their wealth.