Former Aide to China’s Vice Chairman Named in Anti-Graft Probe

October 4, 2020 Updated: October 4, 2020

A former close aide to China’s vice chairman, Wang Qishan, is under investigation for alleged corruption and has been sacked.

The aide, Dong Hong, “is suspected of seriously violating discipline and laws, and is under investigation and inspection,” the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Chinese regime’s anti-corruption watchdog, announced on Oct. 2.

Dong was a trusted aide as Wang was serving as CCDI chief until October 2017. Four and a half months later, Wang was appointed the ceremonial position of vice chairman.

Dong, 66, had been serving as director of the fifth section of the “investigation and research office” in the Chinese Communist Party General Office, which is in charge of investigating officials and government departments.

Last month, Wang’s close friend, Chinese tycoon and princeling Ren Zhiqiang, was sentenced to 18 years for alleged graft.

And Jiang Chaoliang, Wang’s long-term subordinate, was dismissed from his position of Party boss of Hubei Province in February amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

China observers believe the ouster of people in Wang’s close circle, coupled with Wang’s lack of public support for Xi since becoming vice chairman, suggest that Xi and Wang—former close confidants—are now at odds.

Xi Jinping is targeting the discipline inspection system by cracking down on Dong,” said Tang Jingyuan, U.S.-based China affairs commentator, noting that many powerful officials currently at CCDI were promoted by Wang.

After Xi came to power in November 2012, Wang became the chief architect of an anti-corruption campaign that felled many of Xi’s political rivals, such as officials loyal to former Party leader Jiang Zemin.

At least 440 military-level or higher-ranking officials and military officers, such as Zhou Yongkang, Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou, and Sun Zhengcai, have been ousted.

Zhou, who led the Political and Legal Affairs Commission (PLAC) from 2007 until he met his downfall in 2012—a Party agency that oversees the country’s security apparatus, including police, courts, and prisons—was the most powerful official to be punished.

Wang eliminated many “tigers and flies”—high- and low-level officials—in the PLAC system, while Dong was his chief inspector, assisting him in investigating Jiang faction officials.

However, since Wang became vice chairman, he hasn’t expressed support publicly for Xi’s decisions.

“Now, Xi has started to clean up the CCDI, because Wang and Xi separated,” Tang said.

Since Dong was one of Wang’s close aides, “I think Xi wants to alert Wang’s people to listen to him during the CCP’s Fifth Plenary Session,” Tang said, referring to a political meeting set for late this month.