25 June 2014

Wei Jianghong, chairman of state owned Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group, fell to his death from a high rise hotel owned by his company. Mr. Wei has a Master of Business Administration degree and is a senior engineer (mining).

State run newspaper said that his suicide followed some corruption allegations against him being investigated by the authorities.

Tongling’s profits slumped 38% to 573 million yuan (US$ 91.68million) compared to the previous year. The decline in profits was attributed to sluggish world economy and drop in domestic demand. The company’s shares fell by 4% on the Shenzhen stock exchange where it was listed. The company’s market capitalisation stood at US$ 2 billion even after the fall in price.

After Xi Jinping took over the Communist Party’s leadership in 2012, he launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign in which many high ranking officials are being investigated.

Zhou Yongkang, a high ranking member of the communist party was detained along with his son for corruption enquiry. New York Times reported that President Xi has got his family members to sell hundreds of millions of dollars of investments after Bloomberg carried report on the extent of their wealth in 2012.

Interesting stories appear in Chinese newspapers and internet from time to time. One of such stories was that Wei Pengyuan, a senior official of the Coal department of the National Energy Administration was arrested. So much cash was found in his Beijing home that the investigators had to borrow 16 counting machines from a bank to count all that money which amounted to some $16 million.

The disciplinary commission of Shanxi province announced that from January to April this year it punished twice the number of officials at city level compared to the number in the same period last year.

On May 16th, Liu Zhanbin, the president of a state-owned pharmaceuticals company in north-eastern China came under corruption investigations. Two days later he claimed to be sick and was taken to a hospital where he slipped away from the guards and fell to his death from a third storey window. Some 32 suicides were reported in the recent past in China. It is rumoured that some of them would be due to corruption investigations. The reason for this is that, under Chinese law the corruption investigations come to an end if the suspect dies. By committing suicide these officials may protect the assets to their family members.

Regardless of the course President Li’s campaign takes, the high ranking officials in China are under high stress. Even those who were not engaged in corruption are also worried that they may be implicated falsely.