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AWOL official's wife arrested for bribery

THE wife of a former Zhejiang official who has refused to return from Paris has now been arrested for taking bribes.

You Jie, a state cadre at the development division of old town renovation headquarters in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, has been arrested by the Zhejiang People's Procuratorate for allegedly seeking profits by taking advantage of her position and accepting bribes, the Beijing-based Legal Daily reported today.

Her husband Yang Xianghong, former Party secretary of Wenzhou's Lucheng District and a standing committee member of Communist Party of China Wenzhou Committee, absconded in September while on an official visit to France and refused to return to China.

Yang has been kicked out of the Communist Party and removed from his post.

You served at the headquarters from 1999 and used to work at the Wenzhou Hotel affiliated to the city's office administration, the newspaper said.

Yang's deputy Yu Zhongping was also removed from his posts as director of Lucheng District and vice Party secretary because of his involvement with Yang.

Yu, 49, served in Lucheng District from January 2006 and worked with Yang for two years and nine months.

Yang departed on September 19 on a 12-day tour of Europe. He left the delegation just before September 29, claiming he had to stay in France for medical treatment, according to the newspaper.

He then sent a resignation letter to the municipal Party committee, saying that his back pain was severe and the work pressure was too much for him to handle. The government demanded he return but Yang refused.

On October 23, the municipal government sent a representative and doctors to visit Yang in France, saying that the team would help with Yang's treatment. However, the team could only talk to Yang via cell phone as he refused to meet them in person.

Yang called the team representative four times and stressed that his pain was serious. The 52-year-old said he would return to China after treatment, but refused to say where he was.

He had had surgery in 2007 because of recurring back problems, according to Xinhua news agency. Last year Yang told colleagues that he wanted to step down because of his health, and claimed "there were some people against him."

His overstay in France sparked speculation that he fled because of possible corruption charges.

A director of Lucheng's tourism bureau, surnamed Chen, with close links to Yang was also arrested on bribery charges.

Nearly 5,000 upper-level Chinese government officials were punished for corruption over the past year.

The 4,960 officials - all above the county-chief level - were involved in corruption, bribery, acting against the public interest and other violations of discipline or the law, according to Gan Yisheng, deputy head of the Communist Party of China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

A total of 801 officials were prosecuted for crimes, Gan told a press conference in Beijing in December.

Gan said government inspection departments also investigated 144,000 cases that led to penalties for 146,000 lower-ranking government officials. Losses of 6 billion yuan (US$900 million) were recovered through the anti-corruption investigations.


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