China jails safety boss who was sacked over huge blast

Yang Dongliang was jailed 15 years for graft, on Feb 21, 2017.
Yang Dongliang was jailed 15 years for graft, on Feb 21, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
A PLA soldier of the anti-chemical warfare corps working at the site of a massive explosion in Tianjin, on Aug 21, 2015.
A PLA soldier of the anti-chemical warfare corps working at the site of a massive explosion in Tianjin, on Aug 21, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - China's former top work-safety official has been jailed for 15 years for graft, a year and a half after he was sacked over a giant industrial explosion that killed 165 people.

Yang Dongliang, now 63, was head of the State Administration of Work Safety in August 2015 when a series of mammoth blasts at a dangerous chemicals storage facility rocked the northern port of Tianjin.

Yang was quickly removed from his post after the disaster and subsequently placed under investigation for corruption.

A court in Beijing announced Yang's sentence in a statement late on Tuesday, saying that from 2002 to 2015 he took bribes totalling 28.5 million yuan (S$5.9 million) in exchange for project contracts.

The court also said he bought a 270,000-yuan apartment in Tianjin in 1999 using government funds.

 

The statement, however, did not mention whether any of Yang's corrupt activities were tied directly to the Tianjin disaster.

Yang was fined two million yuan and his ill-gotten assets confiscated.

Before taking up his national post, Yang was an official in Tianjin for 18 years, rising to become a vice-mayor.

Government corruption is rampant in China and President Xi Jinping launched a much-publicised anti-graft campaign after coming to power in 2012.

The drive has resulted in nearly 1.2 million people being punished by the end of 2016, a senior official said recently.