News / Asia

    China’s 'Corruption Crackdown' Nabs State Oil Chief

    Maria das Gracas Silva Foster (L), CEO of Brazil's state oil company Petrobras, greets Bo Qiliang, President of CNODC, during a signing ceremony for the First Contract of Brazilian Pre-Salt, attended by Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, ministers and repre
    Maria das Gracas Silva Foster (L), CEO of Brazil's state oil company Petrobras, greets Bo Qiliang, President of CNODC, during a signing ceremony for the First Contract of Brazilian Pre-Salt, attended by Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, ministers and repre
    Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ongoing “corruption” crackdown has now nabbed a major state oil corporation senior official. 

    PetroChina Company Limited Vice President Bo Qiliang has been removed from his position and detained by authorities, who have prevented him from leaving the country.  Bo’s secretary has also been held in the probe.
     
    Bo, who headed overseas operations for PetroChina, a subsidiary of CNPC, the China National Petroleum Corporation, is reported by the anti-corruption news portal FCPABlog to be under investigation for colluding with other senior Chinese oil executives to steal state assets.

    The identity and nature of those assets, however, have yet to be publicly revealed.
     
    The 52-year-old native of Shandong joined CNPC shortly after his 1983 university graduation.  After CNPC acquired the PK oilfield in Kazakhstan in 2005, Bo was put in charge of that operation.

    There are published allegations that during his two years heading PetroKazakhstan, he paid substantial bribes to Kazakh government officials to enlarge the company’s holdings.
     
    Interestingly, Reuters reports that Bo’s replacement at PetroChina is Lu Gongxun, who formerly headed PetroChina’s Kazakhstan operation.
     
    The government’s “Central Discipline Inspection Division” probe into PetroChina has already swept up a number of other officials, including the detention in April of Foreign Cooperation Department General Manager Yan Cunzhang. Former PetroChina Chief Geologist Wang Daofu has also been put under investigation.
     
    China analyst Edward Schwarck at the British research organization Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) says the corruption focus on PetroChina is about profits as well as integrity.
     
    “PetroChina,” which is one of the country’s three major oil companies, is “the worst performing among them by a considerable margin,” Schwarck said.

    “Investigations into PetroChina executives over the past year,” he said, “suggest that Beijing sees corruption as having contributed to the company’s business failings.

    The anti-corruption campaign in PetroChina is probably part of a broader drive to make the company more profitable and efficient.”
     
    The Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Herald says that more than 120 officials from CNPC and its subsidiaries have been put under investigation for alleged corruption.

    Caixin, a Beijing based business website, says at least 45 people have been collared by authorities relative to CNPC-connected dealings.

    Caixin quotes an unidentified official as saying “in addition to the names of corrupt officials that have been made public, many others are also implicated, notably those in charge of the company’s business dealings.”
     
    To a number of observers, the probe into PetroChina and its CNPC parent also has a strong political component – the drive by President Xi Jinping to suppress any rivals.

    These analysts point to the ongoing and ever-tightening spiral of investigation into former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang.  Zhou headed CNPC in the 1990s and that, along with his position as Sichuan Communist Party chief, propelled himself into China’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.
     
    In May 2012, General Ruan Zhibo died unexpectedly and Hong Kong-based Waican News asserted he was murdered on Zhou’s orders, reportedly because the general had knowledge that Zhou and Chongqing Communist Party Boss Bo Xilai, now imprisoned, were allegedly plotting a political coup against President Xi and his circle.
     
    While Zhou has not been hit yet with official corruption charges, those associated with him have been targeted, investigated, and in some cases, taken into custody. Earlier this year, members of Zhou’s immediate family and close associates had a total of $14.5 billion in assets seized.
     
    Several weeks ago, suspected Zhou ally Liu Han, a Sichuan mining magnate, was convicted of heading a 38-member crime gang and sentenced to death.  So was his brother, Liu Yong.
     
    “I think what’s happening is that Xi Jinping [and anti-corruption boss] Wang Qishan want to establish a harsh precedent,” Chinese University of Hong Kong researcher Willy Lam told Reuters.

    Lam said the death sentences were intended “to make people afraid, in a sense, to have a deterrence impact on corrupt officials.”
     
    If Zhou is formally charged, he would be the highest ranking Chinese official to be hit with corruption charges.

    But a number of analysts express doubt that authorities want to put someone once in the Politburo on trial because it would weaken the perceived invincibility of that institution, and, perhaps, draw too much attention to its other members.
     
    “It is still unclear whether Zhou himself will be prosecuted, but the purging of his former allies,” Schwarck said, “is still important in sending a message that obstructive interest groups [those who stand against President Xi] in industry and politics will not be tolerated.”

    Jeffrey Young

    Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

    You May Like

    Video Somali, AU Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    Somalia’s Western backers frustrated over country’s slow progress in establishing its armed forces to bring security after 25 years of chaos

    Israel Makes Push for Gaza Strip Recovery

    After years of economic blockade and attempts to disable Hamas, Israeli leaders eventually realized that Hamas’ downfall could lead to chaos or the rise of a more radical Jihadist group

    Slump in Chinese Tourists Hitting Hong Kong Retail

    Mainland Chinese account for up to three-quarters of visitors to Hong Kong, but that number is falling, and shopping centers are struggling to 'shift gears' and maintain sales

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora