There have been several mysterious deaths among China’s officials recently. On March 22, 2016, Chen Yingchun, former deputy mayor of the city of Shenzhen, suddenly fell to his death.
According to the official microblog of the Shenzhen Public Security Futian Branch, someone fell to his death at the luxurious mansion of Galaxy International in Shenzhen’s Futian District around 11pm. After receiving the report, the police immediately rushed to the scene and found that the casualty was Chen.
The cause of his death is not yet known and is to be investigated.
There are rumors that Chen was questioned by officials of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).
Coincidentally, the CCDI has just assigned an official to be stationed at the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO). CCDI’s focus includes the investigation of capital movement between mainland China and Hong Kong.
Three of Shenzhen’s former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) secretaries are all trusted confidants of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin. Chen’s sensitive “insider” identity makes the case more complicated.
Chen was 59 years old. He was appointed as Shenzhen’s deputy mayor in 2003 and was in office for 12 years. He was in charge of the financial sector for a long time, and he worked under Jiang’s follower, former Shenzhen CCP secretary Wang Rong.
After Wang stepped down last May, Chen also made an early retirement in the same month, which is very unusual.
Chen also supervised the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect, Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone (Qianhai for short), and other important Hong Kong-related projects.
Chen’s mysterious death shocked the financial sector of both mainland China and Hong Kong.
Christopher Cheung, a Hong Kong Legislative Council member in the financial services sector, met Chen twice.
In April last year, Cheung led a Hong Kong financial delegation to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and met with Shenzhen’s Qianhai officials. He talked with Chen, who mentioned that the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect could be introduced within that year.
Cheung was shocked by Chen’s mysterious fall. “The fewer such incidents there are, the better,” he said.
He hopes this will not affect the opening of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect. He added that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang recently indicated his wish to open the Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect soon.
Cheung was planning to visit Shenzhen after the Easter holiday to see whether it would be opened in the second half of the year, but he changed his plan after this incident. He now plans to wait and see.
Chen repeatedly stressed that Qianhai needs to strengthen the cooperation between the Shenzhen and Hong Kong financial sectors. Cheung revealed that the meeting with Chen was arranged by Qianhai officials stationed at the Hong Kong office.
Involved in corruption?
The cause of Chen’s mysterious death has been whispered about. According to the Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Chen has been questioned by CCDI officials, but it is not clear whether this has any connection with his fall.
Some financial professionals openly stated that since Chen supervised the financial and taxation sectors, it must have something to do with corruption; after Chen’s retirement, all the debts were to be collected together.
People in the security sector indicated that this might be related to the recent anti-corruption campaign in the security sector.
On Oct 23, 2015, Chen Hongqiao, former CEO of Guosen Securities, committed suicide by hanging himself at home at age 49. He had multiple connections with Chen Yingchun.
Chen Hongqiao served as the financial settlement director at the Shenzhen Stock Exchange starting in 1997 and was appointed to the post of deputy general manager in 2003. He became CEO of Guosen Securities in June 2014.
Chen Yingchun is one of several Shenzhen municipal-level officials who have run into trouble. In 2011, Shenzhen’s former mayor Xu Zongheng was sentenced to death with reprieve for accepting bribes.
In October 2014, former secretary of Shenzhen’s Political and Legal Committee Jiang Zunyu was investigated for serious violation of the law. In December 2014, Shenzhen’s former deputy mayor Liang Daoxing was sentenced to 10 years in prison for accepting bribes.
People close to Shenzhen’s officialdom said that Chen was quite good at having the favour of both sides. He often wore a pair of big black-rimmed glasses, and his hairstyle and dress are somewhat similar to those of Jiang Zemin.
In public, Chen was serious in both speech and manner. In private, however, he behaved ostentatiously and had a great appetite for money.
In 2012, a post titled “Shenzhen cousin and Shenzhen deputy mayor Chen Yingchun is popular online” spread widely on the Internet. The post has dozens of photos showing Chen wearing a 200,000-yuan Vacheron Constantin watch. The Internet posts said: “Another corrupt official exposed.”
Since 1993, Chen has taken on a variety of roles in Shenzhen: assistant to Shenzhen’s mayor, deputy Secretary-General, deputy secretary of Shenzhen’s Luohu District, district head, and Shenzhen deputy mayor.
During his 22 years in Shenzhen, he was in charge of the financial, insurance, security, and other affluent sectors. Some analysts said that it is not possible to be in charge of these sectors without having political backing in CCP officialdom.
Chen was first promoted by Shenzhen mayor Li Youwei. In 1998, Li was replaced by Jiang Zemin’s trusted confidant Zhang Gaoli.
Chen then switched over to the Jiang faction of the CCP.
Connection with Jiang’s mistress
During Jiang’s 17 years in power, Chen worked with several of Shenzhen’s higher-level officials, including Jiang’s mistress Huang Liman. Huang served as Shenzhen’s vice secretary-general in 1992 and deputy secretary of Guangdong Province in 1998, and she worked concurrently as Shenzhen CCP Secretary in 2001.
Wang Rong took the office of Shenzhen CCP Secretary in June 2009. There are rumours that Wang is the nephew of Jiang Zemin’s wife, Wang Yeping.
In May 2015, Wang left the position during a Shenzhen officialdom shakeup and became chairman of Guangdong People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Five out of thirteen Shenzhen Municipal Standing Committee members were replaced during this shakeup, all of whom are associates of Wang Rong. Ma Xingrui, former Guangdong Province CCP deputy secretary and secretary of the Political and Legal Committee, took power in Shenzhen.
A few years ago, former Governor of Guangdong Province Huang Huahua wrote 40,000 words to report the Jiang faction’s corruption in Guangdong. The content is shocking and mentioned dozens of officials, including former Politburo Standing Committee member Zeng Qinghong.
The report stated, “Retired CCP and state leaders’ relatives have set up more than 3,270 companies in Guangdong. They control 70 percent of the real estate and infrastructure projects and handle 60 percent of the financial and security sector business.”
Huang also noted, “In Guangdong Province, 6,000 to 6,200 relatives of CCP officials have made a fortune and own over one billion yuan (US$153 million) of assets.”
Incident site: Futian Luxurious mansion
Property prices at Galaxy International average 90,499 yuan (US$14,000) per square meter. The price is now close to that in Hong Kong.
Chen visited Galaxy’s real estate many times. Galaxy International’s boss is Huang Chulong.
Both Huang and Kwok Ying-shing, boss of Hong Kong’s Kaisa, are chief presidents of the Hong Kong Chaozhou Association. Kwok was involved in a corruption case some time ago.
After Chen’s mysterious death, an online article written by Rocks-watch-city and titled “A few things about Shenzhen deputy mayor Chen Yingchun,” stated, “Maybe tonight in Shenzhen, another big boss will run away.”
There has always been collusion between CCP officialdom, business, and government. After former Guangzhou vice mayor Cao Jianliao was investigated last year, dozens of real estate developers are on the run.
Translated by Susan Wang. Written in English by Sally Appert