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Ex-Chinese Railways Minister Charged with Bribery, Abuse of Power

A former Chinese railways minister who oversaw the rapid expansion of the country's scandal-plagued high-speed train network has been charged with bribery and abuse of power.

The official Xinhua news agency Wednesday announced the charges against Liu Zhijun. It did not give a trial date or offer any specifics on the charges against him.

Liu was fired from his post in 2011 for unspecified "severe violations" of discipline. State media had previously accused him of taking large bribes and illegally awarding contracts.

The 60-year-old led the expansion of China's bullet train network, which is now the world's largest. The hugely expensive project has been plagued by debt problems and criticized for sacrificing safety for the sake of speed.

Criticism of the rail network intensified after two high-speed trains collided in 2011 in the eastern city of Wenzhou, killing 40 people.



Last month, China said it was dismantling and separating the duties of the railway ministry, which had faced corruption allegations and been burdened with massive amounts of debt.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who recently took over as head of the Communist Party, has said fighting corruption is a top priority for his administration.

Liu, who has not been given a chance to defend himself in public, is one of the highest-ranking Communist Party officials to face graft charges in recent years.

The most sensational corruption case is that of former Politburo member Bo Xilai, whose wife has been convicted of murdering a British businessman because of a failed business dispute.

Bo, formerly one of China's most recognizable and ambitious politicians, has been expelled from the Communist Party. It is unclear when he will face trial.

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