Although the rate of Yunnan officials standing trial for graft and abuse of power has slowed considerably compared to 2015, career bureaucrats continue to fall. The most recent instance involves Yang Wenhu (杨文虎), former deputy minister of the Yunnan Propaganda Department and member of the provincial party congress.
Yang appeared in a Kunming court on Friday, July 15, to hear a public tribunal name the crimes he stands accused of committing. The alleged crimes span the last decade. In addition to charges that he arranged sweetheart real estate deals worth more than 8.5 million yuan (US$1.3 million) for friends and associates, Yang was also indicted for personally pocketing 1.7 million yuan (US$254,000) in government money.
As his family members reportedly wept in the courtroom, Yang admitted he had taken money, but gave it to his wife to invest. Asked how much he gave his spouse, Yang responded that he did not remember, adding that he had no idea how his wife spent the money, and that he had always planned to give it back.
Born in Wenshan (文山) in 1958, Yang rose to the upper echelons of power in Yunnan via a long and circuitous path. Before taking office of any kind, he attended the prestigious Central Party School — a national training institute for aspiring cadres. After several low-level jobs, he eventually landed at Yunnan Television, later taking a post at the provincial Radio and Television Bureau.
Yang's misdeeds, assert court filings, began during his stints in broadcasting. Nonetheless, he was promoted in 2014 to a leadership role in the provincial Propaganda Department, where he served until May of this year before his arrest. If precedent holds, he may have to wait for up to a year for sentencing. Yang has already been stripped of his Party membership, which is usually the first step towards a guilty verdict in cases of this type.
The now-disgraced minister appears set to join a long list of imprisoned Yunnan bureaucrats. The provincial government ranks have been thinned considerably over the past three years as president Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign continues unabated. Other notable offenders include a one-time vice governor, the head of Yunnan's Railway Bureau, a former Party leader, three consecutive Kunming Party secretaries and hundreds of lower-ranking civil servants.
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