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Shenzhen Mayor removed over disciplinary offences

THE Mayor of Shenzhen City in south China's Guangdong Province has been removed from his official positions for serious disciplinary offences.

Unnamed officials with the Organization Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party today confirmed this to Xinhua news agency.

Xu Zongheng, 54, is being investigated allegedly over his links to Huang Guangyu, the founder of Gome and once ranked the richest man on Chinese mainland.

Xu's wife and three vice mayors are also being investigated. One of the three vice mayors is Yan Xiaopei who is seriously ill. Investigators have questioned her in her hospital bed.

Investigators from the central disciplinary authority have been sent to Shenzhen for the inquiry. All senior city officials have been forbidden to leave the city and have had to hand over their personal tourist documents.

Yesterday two of Chinese mainland actresses, Zhou Xun and Liu Xuan, denied links with Xu, in response to a report by the Hong Kong-based Ming Pao newspaper.

The report said the central disciplinary authority had been investigating Xu's case for a year. There had not been a breakthrough until a recent investigation into a mainland actress who obtained Hong Kong permanent resident's status early this year.

The actress, unnamed in the report, told investigators that Xu had offered a large sum of cash to her and she had helped Xu deal with his personal activities in Hong Kong. The actress had reportedly arranged for Xu to appear on China Central Television.

The Ming Pao report has sparked a hot discussion online as to the identity of the actress.

Several mainland actresses have become permanent Hong Kong residents, including Zhou Xun, Tang Wei, Zhang Ziyi, Liu Xuan and Huang Yi.

Liu Xuan, the former Olympic gymnastic gold medallist who is now in the entertainment industry, denied she was the actress in the report.

Actress Zhou Xun also denied involvement in Xu's case, saying she had never known Xu.

Before Xu, the former Shenzhen Mayor Yu Youjun was punished with two years of probation within the Party last year for misusing his power to benefit his relatives' companies with key public construction contracts.

Yu was kicked out of the CPC Central Committee in October last year.


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