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Tianjin official fired over graft
Published on: 2009-06-19
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BEIJING - THE top Communist Party official responsible for a key industrial zone in northern China has been fired and expelled from the party over graft allegations, state media reported yesterday.

Pi Qiansheng, a vice-ministerial-level official in Tianjin municipality, had been the subject of an investigation into 'serious discipline violations', the official Xinhua news agency said, using the party's standard term for corruption.

Pi's sacking comes less than a week after state media reported that the mayor of Shenzhen - one of China's earliest showcase industrial zones - had been fired amid allegations of graft.

Pi - seen by some as a potential political star - had been responsible for overseeing the Binhai New Area on the outskirts of Tianjin, which has been aggressively promoted by the government in recent years with tax breaks and other incentives.

The sprawling zone is home to the city's airport and manufacturing plants, including an Airbus A-320 assembly line.

China aims to develop the Binhai New Area as its third economic engine, along with southern Shenzhen and the Pudong New Area in Shanghai on the country's east coast.

Investigations show that Pi, 58, had taken advantage of his position by accepting large amounts of money, Xinhua reported, citing the Communist Party's anti-graft body.

'He was also found to have abused his power and caused large losses of state assets,' the report added. No other details were given.

Expulsion from the party indicates that the internal probe has been completed and the case will be forwarded to the courts for prosecution. Convictions in such cases are virtually guaranteed and sentences can be as severe as death.

The report comes less than a week after state media announced that former Shenzhen mayor Xu Zongheng had been fired.

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