Multiple High-Ranking Officials in China’s Tobacco Industry Probed for Corruption

Multiple High-Ranking Officials in China’s Tobacco Industry Probed for Corruption
Chinese workers packing electronic cigarettes at a factory in Shenzhen, in southern China's Guangdong Province, on March 12, 2013. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Sophia Lam

Since the start of this year, several executives and senior officials in China’s tobacco industry have been under investigation by China’s top disciplinary watchdog.

Zhu Shaoming, former general manager of China Tobacco Yunnan Industrial Co., Ltd. (“Yunnan Tobacco”), is “suspected of serious violations of discipline and law” and is currently “undergoing disciplinary inspection,” the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said in a notice on June 2.

Both Zhu’s predecessor and successor are also under disciplinary investigation.

Zhang Shuichang, Zhu’s predecessor, who was removed from the general manager’s office in 2010, is being probed under the same allegations as Zhu, CCDI announced on Jan. 16.

Zhou Tao, who succeeded Zhu as the general manager of Yunnan Tobacco in 2018, turned himself over to the authorities in 2022 while he was still in office, Chinese news portal Sohu reported earlier this month. The report didn’t mention any allegations against Zhou.

Yunnan Tobacco has net assets of $32 billion and is the largest of China Tobacco’s 19 provincial-level subsidiaries.

China Tobacco, also known as China National Tobacco Corporation (CNTC), is a state-owned manufacturer of tobacco products under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The company also functions as the State Tobacco Administration, the industry watchdog responsible for tobacco regulation in China.

China Tobacco is the world’s largest tobacco entity measured by revenues, with $287.7 billion in 2022, accounting for 40 percent of total cigarette consumption.

Wu Yi and Gu Bo, deputy general managers of Yunnan Tobacco, are also under disciplinary investigation for allegations of “serious violations of discipline and law,” the CCDI announced on June 6 and Jan. 16, respectively.

The CCDI also announced the investigation of five senior officials from the tobacco industry since the start of this year: He Zehua, deputy director of the State Tobacco Administration (also China Tobacca); Yu Jinxiang, deputy director of the provincial tobacco administration of China’s central Anhui Province; Jiang Yawei, chief economist of China Tobacco Anhui Industrial Company (“Anhui Tobacco”); Yang Bo, director of Logistics Center of Anhui Tobacco; and Zheng Wei, director and general manager of China’s southern Guangdong Provincial Tobacco Administration (also known as China Tobacco Guangdong Industrial Company).

China Has Reached a ‘Dead End’

Arthur Waldron, China historian and Lauder professor of international relations in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania, said the CCP is heading toward “disintegration.”

“I believe that China is in this stage of disintegration or ‘jie ti (解體),’ and it’s something that you don’t see immediately,” Waldron said during an interview with The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program in 2019.

He recalled a conversation with an unidentified person who is a close adviser to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

“He said to me, Arthur, what the hell are we going to do? Everybody knows that this [political] system doesn’t work. We have reached a “si hu tong” (死胡同),” said Waldron, explaining that the Chinese phrase means a “dead-end street.”

CCP Is ’the Most Corrupt Political Party’

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is “the most corrupt political party in the world,” and it is already “rotten to the core,” according to Wang Youqun, a former aide and copywriter for the CCP’s former anti-corruption tsar, Wei Jianxing.

He told The Epoch Times that Wei, during a general meeting of the CCDI in 1997, said there were too many corrupt officials and that only the unlucky ones were purged.

In 2022, Xiao Pei, deputy secretary of the CCP’s disciplinary watchdog, claimed to have investigated 4,648,000 party officials since Xi became the paramount leader in 2012.

Wang said the only way out for China is to remove the CCP from power.

Wang wrote in a commentary for The Epoch Times in 2021: “Some people call Xi ‘the General Accelerator,’ and by saying this, they mean to say that Xi is accelerating the final disintegration of the CCP.”
Li Jing contributed to this report.
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