The governor of a major Chinese province has been accused of disloyalty to the ruling Communist Party and removed from his post, amid a growing consolidation of power by president Xi Jinping that some have likened to a personality cult.
Deposed Sichuan governor Wei Hong joins a long list of those sidelined in a sweeping crackdown on dissent, civil society and corrupt officials.
However, the accusations against Wei are unusual in that they make no mention of corruption or any other crime, which some observers took as a sign that Mr Xi has become powerful enough to take down major politicians without charging them with criminal activity. Wei was accused only of violating “party discipline,” not of breaking the law, demoted to a vice departmental post and removed from his party duties.
Wei had been “disloyal to the party, dishonest and failed to value the many opportunities to receive education and rectify his wrongdoing,” the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in an unusually long statement on its website.
Along with “seriously violating political and organisational discipline,” he also sought to subvert the investigation, refused to confess and interfered with judicial activities, the commission said.
No details were given about the specific accusations against Wei, who has spent most of his career in the Sichuan party apparatus and was also a delegate to the national party and government congresses.
The commission also announced an investigation into a vice governor of the southern province of Guangdong on the same charge.
It said Liu Zhigeng was under investigation but gave no details about his alleged violation of party discipline.
The accusations appear to show an expansion of Mr Xi’s anti-corruption campaign to include those who fail to profess fealty to his leadership rather than just those who have engaged in criminal activity, said Willy Lam, who closely follows China’s elite politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.