Civil avi­a­tion tar­geted in graft probe

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s civil avi­a­tion cir­cle has gone through an un­prece­dented over­haul in which a num­berof of­fi­cial­sandair­line ex­ec­u­tives have been net­ted by the top anti-graft watch­dog over the past five months.

In the lat­est high-pro­file case, Zhou Laizhen, 55, deputy di­rec­tor of the Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion of China, is sus­pected of “se­vere vi­o­la­tions” of Party dis­ci­pline, the Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion said in a brief state­ment on its web­site on Tues­day night. It did not give fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

Zhou was in charge of the plan­ning, fi­nan­cial and air­port de­part­ments at the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The Shan­dong na­tive started his ca­reer with the Fi­nance Min­istry in1981 af­ter­he­grad­u­ated from Dong­bei Univer­sity of Fi­nance and Eco­nomics in Dalian, Liaon­ing prov­ince. In Oc­to­ber 2006 he was ap­pointed head of the CAAC fi­nan­cial depart­ment. In March 2013, Zhou be­came deputy di­rec­tor of the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Zhou’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­lows a suc­ces­sion of probes into lower-lev­elCAACof­fi­cials and in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives since July, when a group of Party in­spec­tors was sent to the ad­min­is­tra­tion to con­duct a twom­onth dis­ci­plinary check.

Those caught by in­spec­tors in­clude Liu De­hua, as­sis­tant to the di­rec­tor of CAAC’s Air Traf­fic Man­age­ment Bureau, Shi Boli, gen­eral man­ager of Beijing Cap­i­tal In­ter­na­tional Air­port, and Si Xian­min, chair­man of China Southern Air­lines.

In the wake of their de­ten­tion, spec­u­la­tion be­gan to cir­cu­late among in­dus­try ob­servers that a high-level of­fi­cial within CAAC was likely to be ex­posed soon.

Wang Huaichen, head

of the in­spec­tors sent to CAAC, told ad­min­is­tra­tion heads in Oc­to­ber that the agency has been plagued by a host of prob­lems such as crony­ism, em­bez­zle­ment of State funds and bribery.

He noted that in­spec­tors have sent clues about some of­fi­cials’ mis­con­duct to the CPC Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion and other re­lated au­thor­i­ties.

A source close to CAAC who wished not to be named told China Daily that he sus­pects Zhou was in­volved in the cor­rup­tion case of Liu De­hua be­cause both of them were re­spon­si­ble for fi­nan­cial af­fairs at CAAC.

“More­over, Zhou was the one that over­saw civil­ian air­port plan­ning and con­struc­tion at the ad­min­is­tra­tion, which means he was a key man when it comes to whether a new air­port could be ap­proved or not,” he ex­plained. “Con­sid­er­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ments are ea­ger to up­grade their air­ports or build newones, you can understand how big this busi­ness is.”

China now has 202 civil­ian air­ports, with 35 new ones be­ing built and more than 60 ex­ist­ing ones un­der­go­ing ex­pan­sion, Li Ji­ax­i­ang, di­rec­tor of CAAC, pre­vi­ously told re­porters.

The gov­ern­ment planned to in­vest 500 bil­lion yuan ($78 bil­lion) in 193 ma­jor do­mes­tic avi­a­tion projects be­fore the end of this year, ac­cord­ing to the CAAC.

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