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    Nov 11, 2015

    Shanghai vice-mayor under probe for corruption


    AI BAOJUN, a vice-mayor of Shanghai in charge of the commercial hub's experimental free trade zone (FTZ), is being investigated for suspected "serious breaches of discipline", the anti-graft watchdog of China's ruling Communist Party said yesterday, using its usual euphemism for corruption.

    The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection gave no further details of the investigation into Mr Ai, the most senior official from Shanghai to be swept up in an anti-corruption campaign launched by President Xi Jinping after he took power in late 2012, Reuters reported.

    Mr Ai, 55, a native of the north-eastern province of Liaoning, became one of Shanghai's seven vice-mayors in December 2007, Agence France-Presse reported.

    Before entering politics, he was a university professor and then worked his way up to the position of general manager of China's second-largest steel producer, Baosteel Group.

    He has headed the committee that runs the FTZ since its launch in September 2013, holding the title of director.

    China set up the FTZ as part of a government effort to experiment with providing a more open and streamlined environment for foreign firms to do business.

    According to online news website Wujie Media, Mr Ai's offences might have been committed during his days at Baosteel, whose vice-president came under investigation for corruption in March.

    Mr Ai is not the first government official involved with the zone to run afoul of authorities.

    Dai Haibo, a deputy secretary of the Shanghai government and former deputy head of the FTZ, was stripped of his post in March, following an investigation for "severe" violations of discipline and the law.

    Before his fall, Mr Dai was the public face of the trade zone, appearing at news conferences, meeting foreign delegations and running the zone's administration on a day-to-day basis.

    Mr Ai is the most senior Shanghai official to be investigated for corruption since the city's then-Communist Party chief Chen Liangyu was dismissed in 2006.

    Chen was jailed 18 years for graft two years later.