The deputy head of the state-owned company that’s developing China’s first home-built aircraft carrier has been fired and expelled from the Communist Party, following a corruption probe that found he had accepted bribes and abused his power.
Sun Bo, who was general manager of China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIS), was accused of abusing his power, harming the interests of CSIC, and “causing great damage to the national interest,” the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), said in a statement on Dec. 17.
The statement from the Chinese regime’s anti-corruption body said that Sun used his position to obtain benefits for his family and friends, and accepted bribes. He was uncooperative during the investigation and engaged in “feudalistic superstitious activities,” according to the statement. The CCDI added that it would seize Sun’s illegal income and refer his case to the judicial bodies.
CSIC didn’t immediately respond to Reuters’s requests for comment on Dec. 18; Reuters reported that it wasn’t able to contact Sun.
The CCDI had said in June it was investigating Sun, who was suspected of serious disciplinary and legal violations.
The South China Morning Post newspaper, citing two sources close to the Chinese military, said Dec. 17 that Sun was investigated for allegedly passing confidential information about the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, to foreign intelligence agents. Sources told the paper that Sun could face the death penalty as a result. That allegation wasn’t mentioned in the CCDI statement.
Sun, who made his career within the Dalian shipbuilding industry, rose to the party leadership at CSIC in 2009. He served as chairman for Dalian Shipyard Group, and deputy general manager of CSIC before being promoted to general manager in 2015.
CSIC is one of China’s largest shipbuilders and is currently developing the first home-grown aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, at its facilities in the port city of Dalian, in Liaoning Province.
The design for the carrier draws on experiences from the Liaoning, which was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China. CSIC’s subsidiary, Dalian Shipbuilding Industry, worked on the modifications. The Liaoning, which was commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy in 2012, became combat ready in November 2016.
The Type 001A, launched earlier this year, is undergoing sea trials and is projected to be commissioned in late 2019.
This isn’t the first time that CSIC has caught the attention of the Chinese regime’s corruption watchdog. In 2015, the CCDI launched a special investigation into the shipbuilder and found that its research institute had prominent “violations of party discipline,” and criticized the department’s poor accounting practices and financial management.
In September 2017, the then-head of discipline inspection at CSIC, Liu Changhong, was fired and expelled from the Communist Party after an investigation by the CCDI. The watchdog accused Liu of taking bribes and referred his case for prosecution.
China’s powerful graft watchdog has investigated and punished thousands of government and state employees in its campaign against corruption, which has been championed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Reuters contributed to this report.