Anti-corruption authorities on the mainland have placed Li Gang, the former head of the Liaison Office in Macau, on a year-long probation, citing “severe violations” of party discipline.
Li is only the latest high-profile official to fall to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive, which began in 2012 and has thus far ensnared more than 250 senior officials and disciplined about 1.4 million allegedly corrupt party members.
The 62-year-old is being investigated on unspecified corruption charges that may be linked to his tenure as the director of the Liaison Office in Macau since 2014 and previously as the deputy director of the neighboring Liaison Office in Hong Kong from 2003.
The announcement of Li’s detention was made at the 8th Plenary Session of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), China’s highest body tasked with anti-corruption efforts. It comes just a week before the semi-decennial national party congress is expected to reaffirm Xi Jinping as the country’s president for another five years.
However, the nature of Li’s violations remains unspecified by mainland authorities. The time period when they were allegedly committed also remain unspecified.
Last month, the National People’s Congress announced that Li had been removed from the legislature as he was under investigation for “severe violations of party discipline.” This was followed by the removal of Li from his position as deputy director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office on August 22. No details have been provided on the reason for his suspensions in either case.
Placing a party member under probation is the second most severe form of punishment – after expulsion – for individuals who violate the party’s discipline.
According to the Chinese Communist Party Disciplinary Regulations, members that violate the Party Constitution, other regulations, “socialist ethics”, or whose conduct harms the interests of the Party may face disciplinary measures.
“Where Party organizations discover during discipline inspections that Party members are suspected of crimes provided for in the Criminal law such as corruption, bribery, or dereliction of duty; they shall be given a sanction of removal from internal Party positions, Party probation or expulsion from the Party,” the regulations specify.
But probation can also be a punishment for other, equally severe crimes, such as creating groups or cliques for personal gain, putting together political factions, cultivating private power within the party or seeking political capital by “exchanging interests or generating prestige in themselves.”
The Party’s rules also state that probationary measures can last either one or two years, but cannot extend for a longer period.
According to the South China Morning Post, Li is the most senior mainland official for Hong Kong affairs to be disciplined for a serious violation since the 1997 handover of the territory. DB