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Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 12:35 GMT
China's ruling party expels top banker
A police dog waits with its handler in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, as a military policeman questions people entering the square (left)
Beijing is tightening security for a key meeting
One of China's most senior bankers has been expelled from the Communist Party for corruption, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The announcement came after a top-level leadership meeting in Beijing approved preparations for the five-yearly Party Congress due to open on 8 November.

He had a debauched lifestyle and corrupted morality

Official statement
Xinhua said the case against Wang Xuebing, former head of China's biggest commercial bank, the Bank of China, and also a member of the Party's elite Central Committee, would now be handed to criminal prosecutors.

State media have said auditors found irregularities at the Bank of China totalling 2.7 billion yuan ($325m).

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China's economic miracle
"Wang Xuebing took advantage of his position to embezzle and accept bribes. He accepted bribes worth several millions of yuan," the statement said.

"He had a debauched lifestyle and corrupted morality."

Mr Wang, a protégé of Premier Zhu Rongji, was sacked as head of the China Construction Bank in January over loans made when he was head of the Bank of China.

He ran the New York branch of the Bank of China before becoming the bank's president for seven years from 1993.

Top-level changes

The decision to expel him from the Party was one of several reached by senior leaders meeting in Beijing ahead of the Party Congress.

During the Congress, a new generation of leaders is expected to take the stage. Party chief Jiang Zemin is due to retire as party general secretary and is expected to hand over the state presidency next year.

Jiang Zemin (AP photo)
16th Party Congress:
  • Jiang Zemin to step down as Party chief
  • Other leadership changes likely
  • Smooth succession to 'Fourth Generation'

  • The man tipped to take over from Mr Jiang is Hu Jintao, the current vice-president.

    There has been mounting speculation about the fates of other senior leaders. Some reports said Mr Jiang was trying to force his liberal rival Li Ruihuan to retire early.

    Secrecy surrounding the Congress makes it extremely difficult to know what is happening.

    China is stepping up security before the meeting and there are reports that at least two dissidents have been detained.

    Democracy activist Fang Jue, who was released from jail in July, was re-arrested again on Monday in Beijing, his sister said.

    Mr Fang, a former researcher at the prestigious Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote a political reform plan for China in 1997 which called for direct elections and freedom of the press.

    Xu Wanping, a veteran dissident who took part in the 1989 pro-democracy protests, was also arrested on Monday in the south-western town of Chongqing, said the New York-based group Human Rights in China.

    It said the arrests were aimed at muffling opposition voices.

    Security has been stepped up around Beijing. In Tiananmen Square, where 2,000 party delegates will meet in the Great Hall of the People, police have been checking identity cards and ordering people not to leave bags unattended.

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