Coal used to be literally gold in China, but those days are over. Formal coal capital Lüliang has now been the center of president Xi Jinping´s anti-corruption drive, writes journalist Ian Johnson in the New York Times. A case study on disrupting the Party establishment.
Now, Lüliang is at the center of one of the most sweeping political and economic purges in recent Chinese history. As President Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption enters its second year, the Communist Party authorities have made an example of this district of 3.7 million, taking down much of its political and business elite in a flurry of headline-grabbing arrests.
Seven of the 13 party bosses who run Shanxi Province, where Lüliang is located, have been stripped of power or thrown in jail, and party propaganda outlets have trumpeted the crackdown in the region as proof that Mr. Xi is serious about rooting out corruption.
On Friday, state news media reported a new wave of arrests, with nine more Lüliang officials detained. The reports say the arrests are part of a new emphasis on cleaning up local governments, where officials have extensive powers and few restraints.
Among those who have been held up for national humiliation here are Xing Libin, a coal baron who reportedly spent $11 million on his daughter’s wedding, and Zhang Zhongsheng, a local apparatchik accused of using illegal gains to build hilltop mansions. Interviews in Lüliang and in state news reports put the two men at the center of an incestuous network of entrepreneurs and party officials who bought and sold government posts to maintain control of the area’s lucrative coal mines and to finance lavish lifestyles.
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