Senior Chinese official investigated in graft crackdown

Story highlights

  • A senior economic planning agency official is the latest target of Beijing's corruption crackdown
  • Liu Tienan, a vice-chairman of the agency, is under investigation for alleged "grave violations of discipline"

A senior official in China's economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, has become the latest target of Beijing's crackdown on excess and corruption.

Xinhua, the state news agency, reported on Sunday that Liu Tienan, a vice-chairman of the agency, was under investigation for alleged "grave violations of discipline" brought to light by a whistleblower. Mr Liu was also head of China's energy regulatory body until March.

The news agency cited the Communist party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection as the source for a brief report that gave no further information about Mr Liu's alleged violations.

But on its official account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese microblogging site, Xinhua appeared to endorse the actions of the media whistleblower who first raised concerns about Mr Liu.

Last year, a senior editor of Caijing, the Chinese financial magazine, reported on his Weibo account that Mr Liu was suspected of fabricating academic credentials, loan fraud and making threats against others.

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The public information office of the energy regulator, where Mr Liu then worked, dismissed the accusations as rumours. "We are contacting the internet management departments and public security department to report the case to the police," it was reported as saying at the time.

Mr Liu is the latest senior official to become a target of the anti-graft campaign spearheaded by President Xi Jinping, China's new leader. Mr Xi has said that failure to address corruption among politicians and officials could lead to social unrest that would threaten national stability and the future of the ruling Communist party.

Last month, Beijing formally charged Liu Zhijun, former railways minister, with corruption and abuse of power, setting up the first test of Mr Xi's determination to tackle graft.

News of the investigation of the NDRC official attracted comment on Weibo on Sunday from a court official in Anhui province, who expressed surprise that such a senior figure could be brought down by a whistleblower.

"Before 2013, it would be the last thing for me to believe that a ministry-level corrupt official could be dismissed by a whistleblower," the court official wrote, but added: "Let's hope it is not [just] political conflict."

Xinhua applauded the move on its official microblog, saying: "The corrupt moths will have nowhere to hide if they are monitored by the ocean of people."

However, one Xinhua reader expressed scepticism: "It is easy to clean one or two moths. But when these moths weave a huge interest network, will the country still have the determination to clean them all? Or is this just another sop to comfort the public?"