Chinese authorities recently announced the first senior official in 2021 to be sacked under a sweeping anti-corruption campaign.
Li Wenxi, former vice chairman of the Liaoning Province Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), was placed under investigation for violating laws and discipline, the Chinese regime’s anti-corruption watchdog announced on Jan. 25. The CPPCC is a political advisory body to the Chinese Communist Party.
Earlier, a number of Party members associated with Li had also been sacked. For instance, former deputy director of the public security department of Liaoning Province, Bai Yuexian; and Liu Guoqiang, fellow CPPCC vice chairman, who had worked with Li for many years, who was arrested recently on Jan. 23.
According to public information, Li, a native of Benxi city, Liaoning, began working as director of his hometown’s police bureau in April 1994. He rose up the ranks of the security apparatus and became director and Party secretary of the Liaoning public security department. In March 2011, he was transferred to the CPPCC vice chairman role. He retired in 2013.
Li worked closely with Bo Xilai, the disgraced official who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 on corruption charges, when the latter was the Liaoning governor from 2001 to 2004. Li was actively involved in the brutal persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in the Liaoning area, according to research by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), a U.S.-based nonprofit.
Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a spiritual practice composed of meditative exercises and a set of teachings centered on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It grew in popularity in the 1990s, with 70 million to 100 million adherents in China by the end of the decade, according to official estimates at the time. Threatened by its popularity, the CCP under then-paramount leader Jiang Zemin launched a systematic elimination campaign against the practice in 1999, utilizing the entire state apparatus.
Bo and others in a faction loyal to Jiang were rewarded for actively participating in the persecution. Bo later became part of a coup attempt to oust Xi Jinping and prevent him from taking power. Bo and his accomplices ultimately were not successful, and were felled by Xi’s anti-corruption campaign that targeted Xi’s political enemies.
According to WOIPFG’s records, Li was one of the officials who tracked down Falun Gong practitioner Gao Rongrong. She was an employee of the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang city. She was abducted and taken to the Longshan Labor Camp because of her faith.
On May 7, 2004, several security officers tortured Gao in an attempt to coerce her into giving up her faith. They shocked her face with electric batons from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Her face became severely burnt, swollen, and full of blisters, according to the WOIPFG investigative report. Gao eventually died in 2005 at the age of 37. Li was director of the Liaoning public security department at the time.
Li’s former associate, Bai Yuexian, was dismissed in September 2020. Bai and Li worked together for 11 years. Under Li’s tutelage, Bai rose through the ranks of the local security apparatus. After Bai fell from grace, his political backer Li was also investigated.
Liu’s former colleague Liu Guoqiang was also recently arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes.
The CCDI stated that it recently concluded its investigation into Liu and found that he “disobeyed the Party, lacked loyalty and honesty to the Party, was double-faced, had no sense of rules, blindly listened to ‘political liars,’ spent huge sums of money to bribe people, was corrupt, and was deliberately opposed to organizational reviews.”
The CCDI added that Liu will next be prosecuted.
Liu was also close to Bo Xilai, having served as the Liaoning vice governor under him. During the time that Bo and Liu served in Liaoning, many Falun Gong practitioners were incarcerated at the Masanjia Labor Camp, notorious for grueling conditions and torture.