Former vice-mayor of Beijing detained on corruption charges, ‘links to Guo Wengui’

A former vice-mayor of Beijing has been detained as part of an investigation into alleged corruption and amid reports he may have had links to fugitive tycoon Guo Wengui.

Chen Gang, who was head of urban development in the Chinese capital for more than a decade, was taken into custody on suspicion of “serious violations” of party discipline and state law, the National Supervisory Commission said on Sunday, making him the first high-profile official of 2019 to be accused of the standard euphemism for corruption.

The statement did not elaborate, but Chinese news outlet Caixin reported on Monday that Chen, 52, had used his authority to help Guo, also known as Miles Kwok, to obtain loans and gain government approval for property developments in Beijing.

Guo now lives in New York, but is wanted in China in connection with a string of alleged crimes including corruption and rape.

Chen was once considered a rising star in Chinese politics and in 2006 was appointed vice-mayor of Beijing with responsibility for urban planning ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.

In 2012 at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party he was made an alternate member of the Central Committee – the largest of China’s elite decision-making bodies with more than 370 full and alternate members – only to lose the position at the party congress five years later.

He also lost his post as vice-mayor at the 2017 congress and was reassigned to the South-North Water Diversion Project, before moving on again last year to head the China Association for Science and Technology.

According to the Caixin report, Chen’s links to Guo date back to 2008 when he gave the green light to plans for the development of an office building that was larger than had been approved.

The two men had a mutual associate in Ma Jian, then state security minister, who was sentenced to life imprisonment on corruption charges last month.

In a videotaped confession Ma said he approached Chen in 2008 to help secure approval for Guo’s project.

Guo, 51, left mainland China in 2013 and is known as a fierce critic of Beijing having made a series of corruption allegations against several senior Chinese officials.

South China Morning Post | January 7, 2019