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Former official caught up in wetland probe

A FORMER vice mayor of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, is under investigation for his alleged involvement in a local wetland preservation project linked to corruption scandals.

Xu Maiyong, was sacked on April 24, according to Beijing-based Caijing magazine.

Xu used to be in charge of Hangzhou's infrastructure construction, including the city's eastern expansion project and subway, the reported said.

Unidentified sources said the investigation was connected with the Xixi National Wetland Park project.

The 10 square-kilometer park in western Hangzhou is the only wetland national park in China.

Hangzhou authorities began a preservation project on the wetland in September 2003, but it encountered problems at every stage - from land requisition and relocation to planning and construction.

The project was also criticized for forcing local villagers to relocate, lack-transparency in its financial status and its huge waste.

Several officials have been punished for misconduct in connection with the project.

Chen Jing, a project manager in charge of preparatory work, was sentenced to life in prison in last July for accepting 5 million yuan (US$732,400) from a gardening company and offering the company a 17-million-yuan contract to relocate about 1,600 trees from the wetland to their new site.

Seven months later, Wu Shaowen, vice director of Xihu District's construction bureau, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve after being convicted of taking bribes worth a total of almost 10 million yuan.


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