Top city official fled overseas in April

Updated: 2012-08-29 04:56

By WANG HUAZHONG in Beijing and LIU CE in Shenyang (China Daily)

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A senior official of Fengcheng, Liaoning province, has fled China amid the nation's testing of measures that prevents corrupt officials from running away and that repatriates fugitives.

A publicity official in Dandong, the city that administrates Fengcheng, confirmed to China Daily on Tuesday that Wang Guoqiang, the Party chief of Fengcheng, fled the country in April.

Song Ximei, the publicity official in Dandong, said she could not verify that Wang ran off with 200 million yuan ($31.5 million), as anonymous sources posted on the Internet, leading to the exposure of the incident.

Song said that because of Wang's high rank, he would fall under the direct supervision of the provincial, not city, government.

The organization department of the province’s Party committee said Wang’s case is being investigated, without elaborating.

Calls to the publicity department and discipline department of the provincial committee went unanswered on Tuesday.

Fengcheng, near the northern coast of the Yellow Sea, has 590,000 residents.

Wang was born in 1960 and holds a bachelors' degree, according to his biography.

His disappearance in April did not come to light until the Internet was abuzz on Sunday with posts claiming that he left with a large amount of money and had reunited with his wife in the United States.

The posts alleged Wang fled amid the discipline authority’s investigation of a local company that has extensive dealings with the city owned by a former classmate of Wang’s.

Local authorities did not confirm the allegations.

At 8 pm on Monday, the Fengcheng government website announced that the Dandong Party committee elected the Fengcheng mayor to be Fengcheng Party chief two weeks ago.

Experts said Wang’s disappearance is a sign that authorities should reinforce and optimize a pilot project to prevent officials from escaping and repatriating those who do.

The highest Party discipline authority introduced the pilot project on Sept 2 in 10 provincial-level regions, including Heilongjiang province and Shanghai.

Lin Zhe, a professor at the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that the project should be spread to cover other provinces, and its policies should be strictly enforced.

Lin Xuebiao, deputy director of law research office with the Fujian Provincial People’s Procuratorate, said: "This kind of escape is premeditated, and we should identify its features to establish an early warning system."

He said the management and checks on official trips is not rigorous enough for service passport holders, and the legal framework in China is different from that in many other countries, which poses obstacles to repatriation.

He added: "We should optimize our policy requiring officials to report their assets and the whereabouts of their family members overseas, and we should optimize the passport management system."

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