Li Jianguo, Politburo member and general secretary of the National People’s Congress, may be about to go the way of Bo Xilai, as Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao reports that he is under investigation by the CPC’s central commission for discipline inspection.
If charges do result, Li would be the highest-ranking official snagged in an anti-corruption drive launched by the new party leadership.
Li, who is not a widely known political figure, was formerly secretary to Li Ruihuan, a powerful official throughout the 1990s. He is considered close to the Communist Youth League, the power base for outgoing Chinese president Hu Jintao, and was only named to the Politburo in November.
If charged, Li would be only the fourth member of the Politburo, a powerful grouping of only 25 senior Party members, to be toppled in a corruption scandal since 1995.
The anti-corruption drive has so far implicated mostly regional officials, including the deputy party boss of Sichuan Province, Li Chuncheng, who had for many years overseen development of the province’s prosperous capital, Chengdu.
Politburo members are usually considered untouchable, only undergoing investigation when, like Bo Xilai, they draw so much attention to themselves that airing the party’s dirty linen in public is actually preferable to hushing it up. Bringing down a high ranking official like Li would be a testament to Xi Jinping’s commitment to his anti-corruption campaign, which he recently said should target powerful “tigers” as well as “flies”.
The investigation by the notoriously terrifying commission for discipline inspection has reportedly driven Li to seek medical help with the stress.