HONG KONG�China has begun a formal investigation into the activities of a top provincial judicial in its eastern province of Jiangxi for illegal activities.

Ding Xinfa, the head of the Jiangxi provincial People's Procuratorate, the State prosecutory body, is the first incumbent provincial prosecutor to be investigated, a report in Hong Kong's Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper said.

Recently rumors had been circulating in the provincial capital of Nanchang that Ding's son and adopted son had run into trouble with authorities for tax fraud, and that Ding had said a number of times that his sons' affairs were their responsibility, the Wen Wei Po reported.

Ding was still appearing at public functions up until last week, hosting anti-graft meetings and attending July 1 celebration performances, the paper said.

Local officials confirmed that the investigation had begun. "Yes, that's correct," an official who answered the phone at the Jiangxi Provincial Procuratorate said in confirmation of the paper's report. "The central government will certainly investigate it..."

He said the investigation had begun last Saturday following Ding's last appearance in public. "But I am not familiar with the rest of the circumstances...I can't really answer any more." the official said.

A Jiangxi-based dissident identified by his surname Xiong said the activities of Ding's sons were widely talked about in the area. "The Ding family home is about three miles from my place, in the next county..." Xiong told RFA in an interview.

"After Ding rose to be a ranking official, he made arrangements for his family. His younger brother became the chief of the Nanchang public security bureau, and his father opened up a casino and a restaurant and became high-handed."

"Everything in today's society is about who you've got backing you up. Because if you've got [top-level official] back-up, nobody dares to touch you," Xiong said.

But Xiong said Ding's investigation probably had less to do with a concerted effort to combat graft than with the likelihood that he had crossed other powerful provincial leaders. "This is a very common phenomenon....It's all about power struggles," he said.

China's new generation of leaders has identified nationwide corruption on a massive scale as a key priority, although only tiny proportion of corruption cases ever see daylight.

Official media estimated recently that U.S. $30 billion a year disappears from state coffers in China through the actions of fraudulent officials. Another estimate by a Chinese scholar put the amount at U.S.$157 billion over three years.

The authorities sacked 19,374 civil servants between 1996 and 2003 as part of efforts to build a clean and efficient government, according to figures released Monday by the Ministry of Personnel.

Civil servants who failed in two consecutive year of performance assessment, or who were found to be incompetent and refused to accept other job arrangement, are supposed to be dismissed under a central government overhaul of the bureaucracy.

The disciplinary measures were part of a campaign against poor performance and illegal activities, the ministry was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying. "The campaign uncovered irregularities involving 8.8 billion yuan (U.S.$1.06 billion), according to figures provided by the Ministry of Supervision. A total economic loss of 5.25 billion yuan had been retrieved, the agency said. #####


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.