Su Shulin, the former governor of southeastern coastal province of Fujian, has been expelled from his post and stripped of his Communist Party membership on July 4 following over a year of investigation, according to statements made by the Party’s disciplinary commission.
He is one of many officials taken down in current Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign for his links to political figures associated with former Party head Jiang Zemin.
Another high-ranking official, vice-governor of Hebei Province Yang Chongyong, was also purged from his position and the Party on July 4.
Su Shulin had served as governor of Fujian Province since 2011; before then, he was based in his native province of Heilongjiang, Northeast China, where he held leading roles in the China National Petroleum Corporation (Sinopec).
Su was placed under investigation in October, 2015. According to the disciplinary commission’s public announcement, Su “abused power, seriously violated Party discipline, and resisted investigation, causing severe damage to the nation’s interests.”
The announcement said that Su “inflated his selfish desires; he became daring and presumptuous.”
Prior to his job as Fujian governor, Su was president and Communist Party secretary of Sinopec starting in 2007. Before this promotion he was a deputy general manager in the firm.
His nickname “Tiger of the Northeast” complements former business executive Liao Yongyuan, who served as president of Sinopec from 2013 until he was purged in 2015. Liao, known as “Tiger of the Northwest” for the region of his basing, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 1.5 million yuan (around $220,000) this January.
Su and Liao owed their success to the now-purged Chinese security chief Zhou Yongkang, who himself had helmed Sinopec from 1988 to 1998. According to the state news agency Beijing News, Su celebrated Zhou’s birthday every year when he was boss of Heilongjiang’s Daqing Oil Field.
Zhou Yongkang, who as former director of the Communist Party’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission—which controlled the national security and police forces—and a former Politburo Standing Committee member, is one of the most powerful officials to have been purged in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. His rise and fall is closely tied to former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin and former vice-president Zeng Qinghong.
The faction associated with Jiang and Zeng is deeply embedded in a web of political favors, corruption, and adherence to political legacy.
A hallmark of Jiang-affiliated officials is their active role in the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice, which was banned by the Communist Party on Jiang’s orders in 1999.
During Su Shulin’s term in Daqing Oil Field, 21 Falun Gong adherents died of torture from 1999 to 2003, 11 of whom worked in the oil industry, according to human rights groups. Su also started a city-wide campaign in 2001 forcing workers and students to sign guarantee statements against Falun Gong, with threats of dismissal to those who failed to comply.
Xi Jinping came to power following the 18th National Congress in 2012. In the anti-corruption campaign his administration began in 2013, 1.2 million officials have been disciplined, including 240 senior officials.
Two months before his arrest, Su had written an article criticizing Zhou, who was purged in 2014 and sentenced to life in prison the next year.
People’s Daily, a state mouthpiece, later published an article censuring Su’s inconsistent behavior after his downfall.
“Su Shulin criticized corrupt officials while being one himself. He faked it too well.”