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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 08:52 GMT 09:52 UK
Top China leader fired for graft
Chen Liangyu on 21 September 2006
Mr Chen is the most senior official to be sacked in a decade
The most senior Chinese Communist Party official in Shanghai has been sacked for corruption, state media reported.

Party secretary Chen Liangyu was dismissed after a high-level probe into alleged misuse of the city's pension fund, Xinhua news agency said.

He has also been suspended from the Politburo, the party's top leadership council, Xinhua added.

Mr Chen is the most senior official to be sacked since President Hu Jintao became party secretary in 2002.

The government investigation has centred on the alleged misuse of at least one third of the 10bn yuan ($1.2bn) pension fund to make illegal loans and investments in real estate and other infrastructure deals.

1998: Beijing mayor Chen Xitong jailed for corruption
2000: Scores of officials implicated in smuggling scandal in Xiamen
2001: Mayor of Shenyang and his deputy sentenced to death for land deals

Chen Liangyu, 60, is accused of seeking benefits for companies and relatives and protecting people around him "who had seriously violated discipline and law", Xinhua reported.

His case has "created an odious political influence," the report added.

Chen Liangyu has been temporarily replaced by Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng, Xinhua reports.

Power struggle

The allegations of misuse of pension funds came to light in July, and have already led to the removal and detention for questioning of several officials and prominent businessmen, including the city's social security and labour chief.

Speculation over Chen Liangyu's political future has swirled since August, when his former secretary Qin Yu was removed from his post as a district governor for his alleged part in the scandal.


The sacking of Chen Liangyu comes ahead of the key Communist Party Congress later this year when Hu Jintao will be hoping to consolidate his leadership.

Until now, Shanghai - China's second city and financial centre - has been considered a stronghold for officials loyal to Mr Hu's predecessor, Jiang Zemin. Mr Chen was a protege of Jiang Zemin.

There has been a continuing power struggle between Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, the BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Shanghai says.

Mr Chen's dismissal is being widely interpreted as Hu Jintao strengthening his position both within the party and the country as a whole, our correspondent adds.

The sacking of such senior Communist Party members are rare.

The last member of the Politburo to be dismissed for corruption was former Beijing party secretary, Chen Xitong, in the mid 90s.

He was sentenced to 16 years in prison, but released earlier this year because of health reasons.

Chen Liangyu was dismissed after a probe into alleged misuse of pension funds

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