Ex-shipbuilding boss in China faces corruption probe

BEIJING: The ex-boss of one of China’s largest shipbuilding conglomerates and former head of its aircraft carrier development programme is under investigation by the country’s top anti-corruption watchdog.

Hu Wenming, who retired as chairman of the state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) in August 2019, is suspected of “serious violations of law and discipline”, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said late Tuesday.

Hu is the latest in a long line of top executives and senior Communist Party members to be brought down by President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, which critics say serves as a way to remove his political enemies.

Anti-corruption investigations by the powerful watchdog typically end with the person being found guilty.

Hu’s downfall comes after the CSIC’s former general manager, Sun Bo, was sentenced in July to 12 years in prison for accepting bribes.

China’s navy is undergoing a massive technological overhaul as part of Xi’s push to modernise the country’s military and transform it into a global defence superpower on a par with the United States.

Prior to becoming chairman and Communist Party secretary of CSIC, Hu gained decades of experience in the aviation industry, where he worked for several state-owned military aircraft manufacturers.

In his former roles, Hu oversaw the development of the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, as well as its second, the Shandong, and the Chengdu J-10 fighter jet which launched in 1998.

CSIC was heavily involved in the research, development and manufacturing of military vessels, including for the People’s Liberation Army.

Two other senior CSIC figures have also been punished by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection for similar corruption-related offences in the past three years.

Hu retired from CSIC shortly before it merged back with its parent company, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), forming one of the world’s largest shipbuilders.

The CSSC is responsible for developing aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, warships including the Type 055 large destroyers and Type 075 amphibious warships, as well as commercial vessels.