Retired head of pricing detained for questioning

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, August 28, 2014
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Cao Changqing, former head of the pricing division at the National Development and Reform Commission. [File Photo: Chengdu Economic Daily]

The former head of the pricing division at China's top economic planning agency has been detained for questioning, reported August 27, 2014.

Cao Changqing, who retired from the National Development and Reform Commission three months ago following a management reshuffle, is most likely being investigated in relation to the corruption scandal at the National Energy Administration, the report said.

News of his detention came less than a week after the Supreme People's Procuratorate announced that Zhang Dongsheng, a former director of the commission, was being investigated on suspicion of taking bribes. In June, Liu Tienan, the agency's former deputy head, was charged with corruption, paving the way for his trial.

Cao was a veteran of the NDRC and had been head of the pricing division, which has responsibility for such things as setting electricity and water charges, since 2007. During his tenure he was involved in a number of price control and reform activities, and his role was both "important and sensitive," the report said.

He retired in the wake of a senior management shake-up involving four vice secretary-generals and seven division heads, it said.

In 2002, the central government began its reform of the power industry in a bid to end decades of monopoly, but the project stalled. One of the problems was the pricing division's refusal to give up its approval authority, industry experts said at the time.

The department was also criticized for its insufficient oversight of State Grid, which resulted in high electricity prices for domestic manufacturers.

Cao is the latest in a growing number of high-profile officials to come under scrutiny as the government deepens its anti-corruption campaign.

Since taking the helm of the Party in November 2012, President Xi Jinping has led a nationwide effort to fight graft, targeting both high-ranking "tigers" and low-ranking "flies."

The Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the body responsible for rooting out corruption, said on its website yesterday that Chen Yong, director of the Jiangsu Bureau of Energy Administration, is also under investigation on suspicion of serious violations of discipline and law.

On July 29, the CPC announced a probe into Zhou Yongkang, a former Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, the highest-ranking "tiger" so far named.

In the first half of the year, prosecutors investigated more than 25,000 people on suspicion of corruption, the Supreme People's Procuratorate said last month.

This month alone, the discipline commission has reported investigations into 67 Party members holding senior positions within government agencies and state-owned companies.

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