China party expels two more senior officials for graft

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's ruling Communist Party said on Wednesday it had expelled two more former senior officials for corruption, laying the way for their prosecution, as the government continues a high-profile campaign against deep-rooted graft.

The party's anti-corruption watchdog said in brief statements that Mao Xiaobing, former party boss of the western city of Xining, and Zhang Tianxin, former party chief of the south-western city of Kunming, had "serious discipline problems".

"The investigation found that Mao Xiaobing took advantage of his post to seek profits for others, demanded and took a huge amount of bribes and committed adultery," the watchdog said in a statement.

Party members, especially senior officials, are supposed to be morally upstanding and adulterous affairs are considered a serious breach of party discipline.

Mao, whose probe was announced in April, will be handed over to judicial authorities for prosecution, the watchdog said. He has also formally been sacked.

The former Kunming official, Zhang, also abused his official position, with his dereliction of duty causing "a loss of state assets", the party said. It did not say if he had been handed over to the prosecutors, but that is the most likely next step.

While both Xining and Kunming are third-tier Chinese cities, they are also relatively important places. Xining is capital of Qinghai province, home to a large and restless population of Tibetans. Qinghai is also the birthplace of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. Kunming is capital of Yunnan province, which sits strategically on the borders of Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Vietnam.

The Chinese leadership under President Xi Jinping has been publicising efforts to crack down on wasteful government spending and corruption to shore up its mandate to rule, which has been shaken by suspicion that officials waste taxpayers'money or use their positions for personal advantage. The government has cracked down on official corruption and extravagance in China since Xi's appointment last year. Xi has said widespread graft threatens the party's survival.

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