[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 October 2006, 05:24 GMT 06:24 UK
China cracks down on corruption
Yu Zhifei, general manager of Shanghai International Circuit, in 2004 file photo
Yu Zhifei, the head of Shanghai's F1 racing track, has been quizzed
China has punished more than 17,500 officials in the first eight months of this year on corruption charges, according to state news agency Xinhua.

The figures come amid a widening scandal in Shanghai over possible misuse of government pension funds.

Two officials have become the latest reported casualties of the scandal.

Ling Baoheng and Wu Hongmei, from the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, are being questioned, the Associated Press says.

A total of 67,505 government officials have been punished in China for corruption since the beginning of 2003 - with 17,505 of those in the first eight months of 2006, according to Xinhua.

"These punishment figures show that the country's prosecutors are determined to root out corruption," Wang Zhenchuan, China's deputy chief prosecutor, is quoted as saying.

The government is trying to crack down on rampant corruption, fearing it could weaken the Communist Party's rule.

China's chief prosecutor, Jia Chunwang, told a conference on corruption being held this week in Beijing that "corruption, if not controlled, would undermine democracy and the rule of law and engender an increase in organised crime and terrorism".

Shanghai scandal

The most publicised corruption case in recent months is the ongoing investigation into alleged misuse of a multi-million dollar pension fund in Shanghai.

More than 50 people have been detained so far in connection with the scandal, a Beijing-funded Hong Kong newspaper has reported - including several senior Shanghai officials and businessmen.

China's Commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics Qiu Xiaohua in 2004 file photo
Labour and social security chief, Zhu Junyi, sacked
District governor, Qin Yu, sacked
City's top Communist Party official, Chen Liangyu sacked
Municipal committee's vice-secretary general, Sun Luyi, sacked
Head of city's F1 motor racing circuit, Yu Zhifei, questioned
Head of China's National Bureau of Statistics, Qiu Xiaohua, (pictured) sacked
One of China's richest men, Zhang Rongkun, arrested

The first high-profile head to roll in the pensions scandal was Chen Liangyu, who was dismissed from his post as chief of the Communist Party in Shanghai last month.

Other leading figures tainted by the case include the head of Formula One in China, Yu Zhifei, who has been questioned by the authorities, and the country's chief statistician Qiu Xiaohua who was dismissed from his post.

One of the country's richest men, Zhang Rongkun, was also arrested at the weekend.

More than 100 central government investigators have been sent to Shanghai to investigate the money that has disappeared from the city's 10 billion yuan ($1.25 billion) social security fund.

The funds were allegedly used to make illegal loans and investments in real estate and other infrastructure deals.

The corruption scandal demonstrates the problems facing those who wish to end graft in China, according to the BBC correspondent in Shanghai, Quentin Somerville.

The courts do not operate independently and almost all of those detained in Shanghai have not been seen or heard of since, he adds.

Auditors and corruption investigators are limited, and the usual checks and balances that expose corruption - such as a free press and regular open elections - do not exist, he says.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific