Broken record. Embarrassment. Comically sad. These are some of the words and phrases that may come to mind when one assesses the current political climate in Kunming. The city's highest ranking Communist official has been removed from office, making three consecutive Party secretaries who have been charged with corruption.
Gao Jinsong (高劲松), who held the post for less than a year, was relieved of duty on Saturday, April 11. As has become the norm for dismissed bureaucrats during President Xi Jinping's 18-month crackdown on graft and influence peddling, Gao was charged with "serious violations of Party discipline and the law".
Although past cases involving Yunnan political bosses have dragged on for months without formal public charges, media outlets are quite specific regarding the accused's misdeeds this time. Both the South China Morning Post (requires proxy) and Caixin report through anonymous government sources that Gao stands accused of illegally funneling millions of yuan in bribes to the now-disgraced Bai Enpei (白恩培).
Bai was once Yunnan Party secretary — from 2001 to 2011 — before falling from grace last year in a corruption scandal of his own. Since charges against Bai were first made public, he has further been accused of nefarious dealings with mining magnate turned mafia boss Liu Han (刘汉), as well as China's besmirched former security chief Zhou Yongkang (周永康).
During the investigation into his illicit dealings, "Bai and his wife confessed...regarding the bribes they took, which implicated many incumbent officials [in Yunnan]," of which Gao was one. If precedent holds, now that has been removed from office Gao can expect to be stripped of his Communist Party membership and then tried behind closed doors by the city's highest court, the Kunming Supreme People's Procuratorate.
Gao joins an ever-growing list of Yunnan officials caught up in the country's graft purge. He joins not only Bai, but also Qiu He (仇和), the one-time reformer who was once honored in Beijing for his accomplishments while in charge of the Spring City but now faces similar charges of corruption.
Before Saturday's announcement, Yunnan-born Gao had been on a steady rise through provincial ranks. A graduate of Yunnan University, he became mayor of Yuxi in 2008 and four years later was named Party secretary of Qujing. His 2014 appointment to Kunming's highest political post lasted a mere eight months.
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