China official dealing with Taiwan to be prosecuted for 'vile and severe' graft

BEIJING (Reuters) - A former deputy head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office will be prosecuted for "serious discipline violations", the ruling Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog said on Thursday (April 21), the latest official to fall in an ongoing crackdown on corruption.

China has jailed dozens of senior officials since President Xi Jinping launched a sweeping campaign against graft after assuming office more than three years ago, vowing to go after powerful "tigers" as well as lowly "flies".

Xi has said the problem is so severe it could affect the party's grip on power.

An investigation found that Gong Qinggai had not honestly reported his stock and real estate assets, spent public money extravagantly, accepted gifts and abused his position for private interests, a statement on the website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said.

He had also played golf, which is banned for party members, and "took part in superstitious activities". It didn't elaborate.

"In his capacity as a senior party official, Gong Qinggai lost his ideals and convictions, seriously violated party discipline, ... had not restrained himself, and the nature (of his violations) was extremely vile and severe," CCDI said.

Gong had been expelled from the party and his case handed over to prosecutors, it said. It was not possible to reach him for comment.

The government announced in January that he had been put under investigation.

Taiwan is a highly sensitive issue for Beijing.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan a wayward province, to be brought under Beijing's control by force if needed. Defeated Nationalist forces fled there in 1949 at the end of the civil war.

Gong, 57, is from the south-eastern Chinese province of Fujian, which lies just across the narrow strait that separates China and Taiwan.

He joined the Taiwan Affairs Office, which is in charge of policy towards the island, in 2013, having previously spent his entire working career with the Fujian government, according to his official biography.