Anti-corruption storm in Shaanxi#China Newsweek#-Sino-US


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Anti-corruption storm in Shaanxi

As early as 2003, Shaanxi province issued regulations on forbidding property development along the northern foot of the Qinling Mountains, but villa construction still happened in the scenic area in the name of tourism development.

Xi’an, capital city of Shaanxi, has become a major city with illegal villa development along the Qinling Mountains. It started to demolish hundreds of illegal villas in 2014, and also more than 200 officials were punished that year. But the anti-corruption storm around the illegal villa construction did not stop.

In the 41st issue of 2018, the China Newsweek magazine ran a cover story on the latest punishment for some officials related to the illegal villa construction in Xi’an, with the former Changan district governor Qian Yin’an at first.

Below is an excerpt of the article.

Qian Yin’an, a former member of the Standing Committee of the Shaanxi Provincial Party Committee, was placed under investigation for violating Party discipline and the law, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on its official website on November 1.

Qian has worked for a long time as the head of the Chang’an district in Xi’an, and during his tenure, villa development started to surge at many places along the Qinling Mountains.

Shangguan Jiqing, the former Xi’an mayor, also faced punishment almost at the same time. To protect the Qinling Mountains, Xi’an has established a special leading group headed by the mayor and Party chief.

Shangguan and Qian have previously worked together in Baoji, another city in Shaanxi province. Along with them, Cheng Qunli, the former chairman of Xi’an committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, was also punished.

The latest round of anti-corruption campaign on the illegal buildings in the Qinling Mountains has started, and it is unknown how many officials will face punishment.

Development craze

Qinling Mountains divide China's northern and southern climate and serve an important ecological protection barrier. Qinling Mountains are also respected as the dragon vein of China, and their status is self-evident.

The section of the Qinling Mountains in Chang’an district has the best resources in Xi’an. As the head of the district, Qian fully understood the reliance of people living in the mountains on the resources there.

Since Chang’an became a district from a county in 2002, the district spent up to 10 million yuan to seek a new development strategy, including the plan on developing the economic belt along the northern foot of Qinling Mountains.

In 2003, Qian was promoted from the position of district’s mayor to its Party chief, and the new strategy then became the new policy. And some real estate development projects were turned into villas in the name of tourism development.

Approved and unapproved property development projects grew randomly at that time. Some media outlets have reported that the illegal villas started to be built in 2003.

Ironically, the Shaanxi provincial government issued the notice the same year that any unit or individual was prohibited from developing real estate in the northern foot of Qinling Mountains. It showed that some developers have itched to have a go.

Qian talked openly at that time with media reporters that “buy homes in Changan as soon as possible. Otherwise, the home prices will increase in several years. The prices are not low already. ”

Not only Chang’an, but when Qian was head of Baoji, the city also developed real estate projects along the Qinling Mountains. Other places have also tried to exploit the resources, such as illegal mining, logging and deforestation.

But the construction of illegal villas was more crazy in Chang’an. And even when media reports released the illegal buildings, they were not demolished and some projects even developed further.

The craziness also came from the sales advertisement boards set by the roads to the mountains. The construction of illegal villas has already been out of Qian’s control.

Wrath

Qinling Mountains does not belong to any one, but it belongs to everyone. When the mountains, known as the lung of Shaanxi for their green landscape and fresh air, became the special zone for the privileged, which triggered public outcry.

Although hundreds of officials have been punished over this issue, some still dare to violate the regulations and laws.

On July 30, the central authorities sent a special work group led by Xu Lingyi, deputy secretary of the CCDI, to Xi’an, focusing on the illegal villa construction at the northern foot of the Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi province.

The team investigated for about one week before Xu held a meeting on cracking down on the illegal villa construction.

The latest round of investigation came as in recent years, President Xi Jinping has made six important instructions on the illegal villa construction problems, serious damages to ecological environment and the protection of ecological environment in the northern foot of Qinling Mountains.

Zhao Leji, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the central leading group on disciplinary inspection, also gave instructions on the investigation.

The illegal villa problem has been treated with for years, but it did not cease. The instructions also showed the wrath of the central authorities.

Xu said that some officials formed a political business relationship with some businessmen, and some bosses of private companies offered bribes to officials who took the money and illegally approved the projects.

Hu Heping, Party chief of Shaanxi province, said that as long as there are problems of violating disciplines and laws, they must be investigated and punished seriously, with no compromise.

Traces could be seen before the central authorities taking actions against the illegal behavior in Shaanxi.

As early as May, the National Development and Reform Commission set a group to investigate the environmental protection of Qinling Mountains in Shaanxi.

One month later, Lu Hao, minister of natural resources, visited Xi’an, Yan’an and Weinan for investigation. His tour was themed with the ecological protection of Qinling Mountains.

The two rounds of investigation were due to the implementation of the instructions from President Xi on the protection of Qinling Mountains, according to media reports at that time

Storm

The wrath of the central authorities could be felt deeply by the officials at the foot of the Qinling Mountains.

In early August, Wang Qiang, who had just taken the post of the Party chief of Chang’an district for six months, was replaced. Wang has been the district’s governor for two years.

By October 24, the 292 illegal villas have been dismantled in Chang’an, with projects occupying 790,000 square meters of land.

Soon, Wei Xufeng, who took charge of the approval on the land use of Xi’an, was placed under investigation. Wei was a former official working under Qian.

In the middle of October, Shi Fan, Party chief of Xi’an’s Yuhuazhai sub-district was investigated.

When Qian was investigated on November 1, the Xi’an Party committee held an enlarged meeting, discussing the illegal villa problem, and Shangguan was not present.

Shangguan’s information was removed from Xi’an’s official website on November 2, which move sparked speculations. When Shangguan worked as Party chief of Baoji, Qian was the mayor.

According to the official website of the Xi'an Committee of China Democratic National Construction Association, Shangguan has been punished.

Cheng Qunli, who retired for more than two years, was also punished at the same time with Shangguan. Cheng was former Party chief of Chang’an county, and the deputy Party chief of Xi’an.

On the surface, it was only illegal villa problems, but it was actual corruption problem. Some villas have not been claimed by owners, which showed the problem.

The magazine Zhong Guo Ji Jian Jian Cha reported that a deputy chairman of the standing committee of a province’s People’s Congress asked for a villa from a developer for his mother to live in. When his mother rejected, he still took it.

The official was Wei Minzhou, former Party chief of Xi’an, and Wei was punished for the problem of illegal villas in 2014.

Whether Wei, Qian, Shangguan or Cheng, their problems were all linked to the illegal buildings at the Qinling Mountains. The anti-corruption campaign there is still going on.


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