A vice mayor involved in key international projects in Shanghai is being investigated by China’s anti-corruption watchdog for “serious violations of discipline”.
Ai Baojun is suspected of corruption over his role in certain major projects including the Shanghai free trade zone and a Walt Disney Co. theme park.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Ai has a portfolio that spans tourism, industry, trade and security.
Also, he has had a high-profile role as director of the Shanghai free trade zone regulatory commission.
China is promoting the zone as a landmark effort to remake its economy and spur market-oriented financial reform.
Launched in 2013, it was hoped that the zone would repeat the 1980s success of Shenzhen’s special economic zone in which the backwater fishing village was transformed into an export powerhouse.
But executives say the zone has been slow to gain traction.
Ai also heads the regulatory commission for the Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone, of which Disney’s Shanghai park is a prominent centerpiece.
Before this career, Ai had worked at Shanghai’s Baosteel, among China’s largest steelmakers, where he held roles including general manager before assuming his post as city vice mayor at the end of 2007.
Shanghai’s news office referred reporters to a statement on its microblog which the local Communist Party secretary, Han Zheng, as saying that the case reflected Chinese President Xi Jinping’s determination to fight corruption.
Ai’s case should make cadres deeply reflect, Han was quoted as saying, adding that individuals must hold themselves, their relatives and surrounding work personnel to a stricter standard.
The move was the second notable blow to the free trade zone from the corruption crackdown.
Earlier this year, authorities said that the project’s former deputy director, Dai Haibo, was placed under investigation for “serious violations” of party discipline and law.
Ai had previously told reporters Dai’s removal from his post, which had occurred late last year, was a “normal personnel shift.”
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