Posts Tagged ‘Caixin’

China’s president orders arrest of CEFC’s founder Ye Jianming, ending entrepreneur’s stellar rise as one of China’s oil tsars — Funded by China’s state banks

March 1, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | CEFC’s rapid expansion in China’s state-dominated oil universe and emergence as a major player in world oil markets has raised questions about its backing inside China

BEIJING (AFP) – Shares of two firms linked to Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy tumbled Thursday after a report that its high-flying chairman was under investigation.Ye Jianming — dubbed China’s “newest oil baron” by Forbes magazine in 2016 — quickly built CEFC China Energy into a global energy powerhouse, expanding into Eastern Europe, Africa and the Gulf States, and agreeing to buy 14 percent of Russian oil giant Rosneft last year.

Image result for Ye Jianming, photos

Ye Jianming

But Chinese financial news magazine Caixin, citing anonymous sources, reported that Ye has been put under investigation over links to a former Communist Party chief accused of graft.

The CEFC China Energy conglomerate itself is not publicly listed. But following the report, shares in Shenzhen-listed subsidiary CEFC Anhui International Holding fell by as much as 9.85 percent before closing down 4.45 percent, while affiliate CEFC Hong Kong Financial Investment Company dropped by almost 23 percent on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng.

Both companies distanced themselves from Ye in separate stock filings.

“Ye Jianming does not hold any position at (CEFC Anhui), there is no direct relationship with our company, and he is not the company’s actual controller,” the Shenzhen-listed unit of CEFC China Energy said in a stock filing prompted by the Caixin report.

The Hong Kong company said its directors “noted there are press reports today about Mr. Ye Jianming” but stressed that he did not hold any directorship and is not involved in the management of the its operations.

The Caixin report did not specify the nature of the investigation into the oil tycoon though it noted “Chinese authorities have requested Ye’s assistance in a graft investigation” of a former provincial Communist Party chief who had been detained on corruption charges.

The party chief had helped CEFC raise money, Caixin reported.

Beijing has sought to rein in conglomerates whose splashy overseas investments have taken billions out of the country. Last week, authorities took control of Anbang Insurance Group and said its chairman faced prosecution for “economic crimes”.

CEFC’s rapid expansion in China’s state-dominated oil universe and emergence as a major player in world oil markets has raised questions about its backing inside China.

The company has played up its role in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious One Belt One Road initiative.

CEFC China Energy did not respond to an AFP request for comment.

Last year, US authorities took the company to task over its business dealings in Africa.

US authorities arrested Hong Kong’s former home affairs secretary and the ex-foreign minister of Senegal for leading a multimillion dollar bribery scheme in Africa on behalf of a top Chinese energy company.

CEFC was not identified in the announcement or the complaint filed in New York federal district court, but details in the complaint pointed to CEFC China Energy.

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China’s president orders arrest of CEFC’s founder Ye Jianming, ending entrepreneur’s stellar rise

From obscurity, Ye Jianming built a business empire with 263 billion yuan in revenue by 2015, before he turned 40, and began on a shopping spree for energy assets around the world, mostly funded by China’s state banks.

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 2:31pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 3:23pm

The Fujian entrepreneur who took less than five years to rise from obscurity to become head of China’s fourth-largest oil conglomerate, has been detained for questioning on the mainland at the direct order of the Chinese president Xi Jinping, according to four sources familiar with the matter.

Ye, ranked two spots ahead of French president Emmanuel Macron in Fortune magazine’s ‘40 Under 40’ list of the world’s most influential young people in 2016, was detained just before the start of the Lunar New Year celebrations on February 16, a source told the South China Morning Post, declining to provide his name for disclosing a matter under investigation. Caixin magazine earlier reported that Ye had been taken away for questioning, but the story appeared to have been removed from its website.

 CEFC’s founder Ye Jianming. Photo: SCMP/Handout

Shares of three companies linked to Ye’s flagship company CEFC China Energy plunged on stock exchanges in Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Singapore, wiping out a combined 4 billion yuan (US$630 million) in market value within an hour of trading.

A CEFC spokesman in Shanghai responded by text that the company “has nothing to announce for the time being,” declining to elaborate.

The detention of the low-profile entrepreneur follows the November 21 arrest in New York of Hong Kong’s former Home Secretary Patrick Ho, on charges of routing bribes for African government officials through US financial institutions.

Ho, 68, was leading a life of what he called “civil diplomacy” since his retirement from Hong Kong’s public service, heading a think tank called the China Energy Fund Committee, fully funded by CEFC. The think tank has special consultative status with the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council, with access to influential decision makers in UN bodies.

Ho and Senegal’s former foreign minister Cheikh Gadio operated “an international corruption scheme that spanned the globe” since 2014, according to a November 20, 2017 statement by the US Department of Justice. The two men allegedly offered a US$2 million bribe to Chad’s president Idriss Deby in exchange for “valuable oil rights,” and another US$500,000 to Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa.

 Sam Kutesa (left), President of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, met with Ye Jianming (right), Chairman of CEFC China Energy, after appointing the Chinese entrepreneur as Special Honorary Advisor to UN General Assembly. Photo: CRIENGLISH

Ye’s detention in China marks a remarkably speedy downfall for an entrepreneur who was still making waves three months earlier. CEFC made its third media and communications asset in the Czech Republic in November, leading a consortium that would pay 500 million (US$609 million) to buy the majority of Czech broadcaster CME from Time Warner.

Two months earlier in September 2017, CEFC paid US$9.1 billion for 14.2 per cent of Russia’s state-backed oil company Rosneft, becoming one of the largest shareholders in the world’s largest listed oil firm by production.

Shanghai-based CEFC, established by Ye in 2002 when he was in his mid twenties, had spent at least US$1.7 billion since 2015 buying energy-related businesses in Romania, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and even Chad, not including another US$1.2 billion buying financial services in the US and in the Czech Republic.

 Czech Republic’s President Milos Zeman, center right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping review a guard of honour during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on October 27, 2014. The Czech president would make his second trip to China a year later, becoming the sole European Union head of state to attend China’s military parade to commemorate the end of the Second World War. Photo: AP Photo/Andy Wong

Due partly to Ye’s investments in the country, the Czech Republic’s president Milos Zeman was the sole European Union leader to join a 2015 military parade in Beijing to commemorate the end of the Second World War.

Ye, whose aggressive shopping spree had been attributed to the mistaken association of him with the family of the late Ye Jianying – China’s head of state from 1978 to 1983 – is actually the son of an ordinary worker’s family in Fujian province, according to people who know both families.

After working briefly as an enforcement officer with the forestry department, he earned his first pot of gold helping to extricate a Hong Kong businessman from financial strife and complete a real estate transaction, according to Depth-paper, a Chinese news portal.

From there, he bought at auction the oil businesses that the government had confiscated from Xiamen’s smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing, using loans from state banks, as well as investors in Hong Kong and Fujian to finance his purchase, he told Fortune in an interview.

By 2015, Ye had built up a business empire with 263 billion yuan in revenue, 60 per cent of which was from the trading of oil and gas. CEFC then embarked on an overseas shopping spree, starting with a US$680 million purchase of a majority stake in the overseas unit of Kazakhstan’s state oil company. Subsequent acquisitions extended across eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, mostly in oil and gas. He made waves in Hong Kong when CEFC paid HK$1.4 billion (US$177 million) for three floors of office space at the Wan Chai Convention Plaza, with views of Victoria Harbour.

His biggest acquisition had been his investment in Rosneft, chaired by Igor Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The deal was financed primarily by state banks in Russia and China.

China Development Bank, a state lender established with the charter to provide funding for projects aligned with Chinese state policies, has been CEFC’s biggest financier since the company’s establishment.

The Beijing-based lender extended 32.3 billion yuan of loans, or 87.5 per cent of total bank borrowings, according to the September 2016 bond prospectus of its principal subsidiary CEFC Shanghai International Group.

http://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/2135238/chinas-president-orders-arrest-cefcs-founder-ye-jianming-ending

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China Moves to Discredit Tycoon’s Claims of Communist Party Corruption

April 21, 2017

BEIJING — China on Friday sought to discredit billionaire businessman Guo Wengui, painting him as a “criminal suspect” whose allegations of corruption within the highest levels of the Communist Party should not be believed.

Guo, a flamboyant property mogul who has held close ties to disgraced former Chinese intelligence official Ma Jian, has courted international attention with his explosive claims, most recently aired during a live television interview with the U.S government-funded Voice of America (VoA) on Wednesday.

 Exiled businessman Guo Wengui. Photo: Handout

China said on Wednesday that Guo was subject to an Interpol “red notice”, a fact Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Friday.

“If you are willing to believe what he said then that’s your business,” Lu said. “We don’t believe it.”

The Chinese government had pressed VoA to cancel the interview ahead of time, including by summoning one of the broadcaster’s Beijing-based correspondents to a meeting on Monday, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The ministry’s comments come amid an apparently concerted damage-limitation effort within China highlighting Guo’s reputation as an unreliable narrator.

A 23-minute video, purportedly of Ma Jian confessing in detail to accepting 60 million yuan ($8.72 million) in bribes from Guo, has circulated on Chinese social media since Wednesday night without being removed by government censors who are often quick to delete politically sensitive posts or unsubstantiated rumors.

The video, which was produced and posted online anonymously, has also been reported on widely by mainland media outlets, all of which are regulated by the government. Reuters was unable to independently verify the veracity of the video.

The widely read Beijing News newspaper, and the respected financial magazine Caixin, also published lengthy investigations into Guo’s business dealings and ties with Ma, a disgraced former state security vice-minister who was first detained in early 2015 and expelled from the Communist Party in December last year.

Guo has said he left China in late 2014 after being tipped off about Ma’s imminent arrest, and has not returned since his company premises were raided amid a heated dispute with state-backed Founder Securities.

Since leaving, he has spent most of his time in the United States.

After laying low for two years, Guo resurfaced in February and has since made wide-ranging but unverified allegations of corruption against several top Communist Party officials – past and present – and their families.

He says the information was obtained from Ma, whom he concedes he held a close relationship with but denies bribing.

At Friday’s Foreign Ministry briefing, Lu rejected suggestions the timing of the Interpol red notice was connected to the airing of the VoA interview.

“Interpol has been around for 100 years and has 190 member states,” he said. “For this kind of international organization we think their actions are solemn.”

(Reporting by Philip Wen and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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How a powerful tycoon had a Chinese spy master in his pocket

April 20, 2017

‘Shared interests’: Jailed spy master’s tale of how he and businessman friend looked out for each other’s interests

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By Nectar Gan
South China Morning Post
Thursday, April 20, 2017, 11:16pm
It sounds like the plot to a political thriller or a Hollywood spy film – in which a self-made business tycoon manipulates the country’s secretive state security agency for business gains and has a spy chief at his beck and call.
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Senior Chinese banking regulator under investigation: Caixin

April 16, 2017

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Yang Jiacai,  China Banking Regulatory Commission

BEIJING (REUTERS) – A senior official at the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) is under investigation for suspected links to a loan scandal, the financial magazine Caixin reported, citing sources close to the matter.

Yang Jiacai, assistant chairman of CBRC, has been under investigation since April 9 in connection with the scandal in Hubei province, Caixin said late on Saturday, following days of rumours circulating online that Yang had gone missing.

China’s graft watchdog on April 9 also announced an investigation into the chairman of the country’s insurance regulator, Xiang Junbo, the most senior financial regulator to be investigated as part of a government fight against graft.

No official announcement of an investigation into him has been made. His name and profile were still accessible on the CBRC website on Sunday.

Caixin reported last Friday that Yang had been relieved of his duties, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

CBRC did not respond to a faxed request for comment on Friday or to a second fax on Sunday about the investigation.

Yang’s last public appearance was on April 7 speaking at a news conference about new risk control guidelines for lenders as part of efforts to contain risks from a rapid build-up in debt.

China’s top leaders have pledged this year to address financial risks and asset bubbles.

President Xi Jinping has pledged to wage war on deep seated graft in the ruling Communist party until officials at all levels dare not be corrupt, warning that a failure to check the rot could threaten the party’s existence.

Yang and his wife and son were all placed under investigation due to their suspected involvement in a loan scandal in Hubei, Yang’s home province, Caixin said.

Yang spent most of his career in Hubei and was deputy head of the central bank’s Wuhan city branch in Hubei from 1997 to 2003, according to his official profile.

According to the article, investigations into the scandal have already led to a number of official probes, including into chief risk officer of China’s Bank of Communications, Yang Dongping, who was expelled from the party on Feb 24.

Yang became assist chairman of the CBRC in 2013.

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Some say Xi Jinping’s anti-corrption campaign is just a way for him to elivinate critics and political foes. No one will come forward to say that corrupion is down undr Xi Jinping. That’s only a myth….

It happens in Russia — occasionally. An oligarch, made fabulously wealthy through the privatization of state assets, breaks ranks, becoming a critic of President Vladimir V. Putin.

China was different. Its growing ranks of billionaires often owe their fortunes to the good graces of the Communist Party and its leading families. But the firsthand knowledge that the country’s tycoons might have of the complex shareholding ties that serve to enrich the political elite had stayed secret.

That changed this year. In two rambling interviews with a New York-based media company lasting more than four hours, Guo Wengui, a real estate magnate, described what he said was a ferocious struggle that culminated two years ago in the collapse of a business deal pitting him against relatives of a retired top Communist Party official, He Guoqiang.

Since then, Mr. Guo has lived abroad, and is a member of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

In going public with his charges, Mr. Guo demonstrated just how dangerous a loose-lipped billionaire can be to China’s Communist Party. The party still strives to cultivate an image of selfless service to the nation, with state-run news media repeatedly emphasizing that no official is immune to President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive, now in its fifth year.

If Mr. Guo is to be believed, Mr. Xi, when he assumed leadership of the Communist Party in November 2012, may have faced a far more serious corruption problem than has been publicly disclosed, touching not only the departing chief of the country’s security forces but perhaps also the top official in charge of rooting out graft in the party’s own ranks, Mr. He. Both were members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the elite body that wields supreme power in China.

“If you are Xi Jinping and you are deciding to go after corruption, can you take them on all at once?” asked Andrew Wedeman, a professor of political science at Georgia State University who studies corruption in Chinese politics.

Photo

Zhou Yongkang, the former head of the security forces, in court in 2015.CreditChina Central Television, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The former head of the security forces, Zhou Yongkang, was prosecuted on graft charges and is now serving a life sentence in prison. But there is no report that Mr. He or members of his family have been prosecuted. To Mr. Guo, that demonstrates the weakness of the corruption crackdown: Among the elite, the campaign touches only those who are already on the losing side of factional power struggles.

Mr. Guo explained in a March 8 videotaped interview with Mirror Media Group, a Chinese-language news company based on Long Island, how Mr. He’s son He Jintao was the “boss” of the second-largest shareholder in Founder Securities, a company in which Mr. Guo was seeking to acquire a large stake. He Jintao concealed his role through a proxy, according to Mr. Guo.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/15/world/asia/china-billionaire-guo-wengui-xi-mar-a-lago.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fasia&_r=0

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China Factory Index Hits 5-Year High as Economy Gains Steam

March 31, 2017

The Associated Press

China’s factory activity has ticked up again last month to its highest level in nearly five years, in a fresh sign the world’s No. 2 economy is picking up steam.

| March 31, 2017, at 12:10 a.m.

China Factory Index Hits 5-Year High as Economy Gains Steam

The Associated Press

Sparks fly as a welder works in a subsidiary of China Offshore Oil Engineering Co. Ltd. in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province Friday, March 31, 2017. China’s factory activity has ticked up again February, 2017, to its highest level in nearly five years, in a fresh sign the world’s No. 2 economy is picking up steam. The official purchasing managers’ index released Friday climbed to 51.8 in March from 51.6 in the previous month.(Chinatopix via AP) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

By KELVIN CHAN, AP Business Writer

HONG KONG (AP) — China’s factory activity ticked up again last month to its highest level in five years, according to an official survey released Friday, in a fresh sign that the world’s No. 2 economy is picking up steam.

The index based on a survey of purchasing managers climbed for a second straight month in March to 51.8, its strongest level since April 2012, from 51.6 in the previous month.

The PMI by the Chinese Federation of Logistics and Purchasing is based on a 100-point scale, with numbers above 50 indicating expansion.

“The manufacturing sector continued to maintain a steady trend,” said Zhao Qinghe of the National Bureau of Statistics, which released the report. Production and new orders were key drivers of the latest growth, Zhao said, adding that high-tech manufacturing grew rapidly while conditions in traditional industrial production improved.

The report’s measures of production and new orders expanded at a faster pace in China’s key manufacturing sector, which is a major part of the broader economy employing many millions of workers churning out electronics, clothes and toys for export.

Factories stopped shedding staff for the first time in five years, as the report’s employment sub-index rose to 50, the first time it has not been in contractionary territory since May 2012.

Chinese manufacturing and trade with the U.S. will be on the agenda when U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on April 6-7 in Florida. Trump, who accused China of unfair trade practices during his campaign, tweeted Thursday that the meeting would be “very difficult.”

Meanwhile, the official non-manufacturing PMI rebounded, rising to 55.1 last month from 54.2, indicating strengthening domestic demand in China’s service sector.

China’s PMI is widely watched because it provides one of the earliest insights into the economy. A private PMI by financial magazine Caixin and Markit is due Saturday. Official GDP figures are expected in mid-April.

The latest data add to recent evidence that China’s economy is stabilizing. Earlier this month, a report found imports and exports expanded in the first two months of the year after weakening near the end of 2016.

Beijing is targeting economic growth of about 6.5 percent this year, down from 2016’s 6.7 percent.

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China’s National Statistics Bureau website: http://www.stats.gov.cn/

China factory activity jumps strengthening hopes of stable economy

November 1, 2016

Activity in China’s industrial heartland has rebounded strongly in both official and unofficial readings of manufacturing activity in October.

Both the official purchasing managers index published by the national Bureau of Statistics and the Caixin PMI came in at 51.2, the first significant bounce in activity in two months.

A PMI reading above 50 represents expanding activity, while below 50 is a contraction.

The official NBS survey is strongly weighted towards activity in the large state-owned enterprises, while the survey from the Caixin media company has a sharper focus smaller, private enterprises.

Both surveys beat analyst expectations by a wide margin, with the Caixin survey reporting the fastest growth in more than two years, and output expanding at its quickest pace in five-and-half years on the back of new order growth.

“The index readings for new orders and output for October were both much higher than in September, and those for input and output prices rose even more,” said Caixin’s chief economist Dr Zhengsheng Zhong.

Capital Economics’ Julian Evans-Pritchard said the rebound appeared largely to be driven by stronger domestic demand rather than improved export conditions.

Employment decline slows

Employment showed signs of recovering, with job numbers still declining but at a slower pace than in previous months, while producer cost inflation grew at its fastest pace since early 2011.

“The breakdown of the PMIs show large pick-ups in the output and new orders components,” Mr Evans-Pritchard said.

“Stronger domestic demand appears to be responsible, with the new export orders sub-index of both PMIs actually falling.

“The breakdown of the official PMI by firm size suggests that the latest improvement in conditions has been concentrated among small and medium sized firms — the sub-index for large firms actually edged down.

“This is consistent with the big increase in the Caixin PMI, which is skewed towards smaller private firms, and suggests the policymakers’ recent efforts to support the private sector may be bearing some fruit.”

Strength was also evident in the broader economy, with the non-manufacturing PMI rising to its strongest reading in almost a year with growth in the services sector more than outpacing a contraction in construction.

“Overall, today’s data are unambiguously upbeat and consistent with broader evidence that the economy is currently in the midst of a cyclical recovery,” Mr Evans-Pritchard said.

However, the sugar hit from easier policy may start easing early next year, Mr Evans-Pritchard suggested.

“Beyond that, however, the recovery is likely to stall as the boost from stimulus fades, re-exposing the structural drags that continue to weigh on the economy,” he said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-01/factory-activity-boost-strengthens-hopes-for-china’s-economy/7983908

China’s Crackdown on ‘Vote-Buying’ Likely The Result of Factional Warfare: Analysts

September 16, 2016

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), presides over the NPC Standing Committee in Beijing, Sept. 13, 2016. AFP

A decision by China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to expel 45 members for vote-buying and bribery is more closely linked to factional infighting than a genuine attempt to weed out corruption in the rubber-stamp parliament, analysts said on Wednesday.

The NPC on Tuesday disqualified 45 legislators from the northeastern province of Liaoning, citing “electoral fraud” during 2013 elections to the legislature, official media reported.

More than 500 delegates to the Liaoning Provincial People’s Congress were implicated in the election fraud and have now either resigned or had their qualification as delegates terminated, state news agency Xinhua reported.

But while pro-Beijing media reported the move as an important step in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, analysts said the crackdown was more likely the result of power struggle within the ranks of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

“I think that this is the result of factional infighting,” constitutional law expert and former local People’s Congress deputy Yao Lifa told RFA.

“I think that the laws governing the election of People’s Congress delegates must be amended, otherwise the problem of vote-buying isn’t going away.”

Bruce Lui, of the Hong Kong Baptist University’s journalism faculty, said Liaoning was once a political stronghold of jailed former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, which might have made it a political target under Xi’s administration.

“For the whole of the Liaoning People’s Congress to be rounded up and taken away by the central government ahead of the 19th People’s Congress [next year] shows that this must really be a nest of vipers … and that Xi Jinping has the authority to deal with them,” Lui said.

“But it also shows us at some level that the government dictates how deep and how far the anti-corruption campaign goes.”

Political retaliation?

Lui said such moves could also be a form of political retaliation targeting local governments who obstruct the implementation of Xi’s directives.

Sun Wenguang, retired Shandong University lecturer and former local delegate to NPC advisory body the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said if the system is corrupt, then the responsibility lies with the government.

“All of the NPC delegates and the election candidates are in fact chosen by the government,” Sun said. “The elections are just there for show, and people very seldom cast a vote in opposition.”

“There is no real election campaigning, which is why the Liaoning electoral fraud case is a little strange.”

“I think it has to do with internal struggles within the party, with one faction gaining the ascendancy and then using bribery charges to get rid of the other faction,” he said.

Sun called for reform of the NPC system to allow for genuine elections to take place with a slate of different candidates not pre-selected by the government.

“There should be two or three different candidates in a People’s Congress election, and anyone should be allowed to stand as long as they are over 18 and meet the residency requirements,” Sun said.

“Elections should be open, fair and transparent, otherwise they are meaningless,” he said.

No opposition allowed

Overall, there are five levels of hierarchy in the People’s Congress system, with the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing at the top.

China’s electoral guidelines state that candidates may put themselves forward if they receive recommendations from at least 10 local voters in direct elections to district and township level People’s Congresses.

Every three to five years, China “elects” more than two million lawmakers at the county and township levels across the country to local-level People’s Congresses in more than 2,000 counties and 30,000 townships.

But powerful vested interests mean that the majority of local “elections” are a fait accompli, while independent candidates are frequently targeted for persecution, harassment and detention.

Local vested interests have used intimidation and detention, tampering with physical ballot boxes, and paying for extra votes to maintain their grip on the outcome.

Apart from a token group of “democratic parties” that never oppose or criticize the ruling party, opposition political parties are banned in China, and those who set them up are frequently handed lengthy jail terms.

Reported by Lee Lai for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Gao Shan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/china-votebuying-09142016125327.html

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Figure in China vote-buying scandal has ties to Clinton Foundation

September 16, 2016

By John Solomon
Global News

A Chinese businessman publicly identified as one of 45 legislators dismissed earlier this week from China’s main legislative body in a vote fraud scandal made a seven-figure donation from his company to the Clinton Foundation three years ago, donor records show.

Wang Wenliang’s Rilin Enterprises contributed between $1 million and $5 million to the foundation tied to Bill and Hillary Clinton in 2013, according to the charity’s public donation records. He serves as chairman of the Chinese-based construction conglomerate.

Wang, a Chinese national with legal U.S. residency, was identified in public reports as one of the 45 lawmakers dismissed by the National People’s Congress as a regional deputy from Liaoning in what China’s official Xinhua news agency called a “vote buying and bribery” scandal in the legislature.

Among the publications identifying Wang as one of the 45 lawmakers was The New York Times and the Taipei Times.

Wang has emerged as an intriguing figure in the U.S. election after CNN and other news media outlets reported earlier this year $122,000 in donations connected to him and given to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons, was being investigated by the FBI.

The America Rising PAC posted a video purportedly showing Wang entering the home of Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C. in 2013. McAuliffe has denied any wrongdoing, saying he did not know Wang personally. His lawyers said the FBI investigation wasn’t focused on fundraising but rather foreign lobbying laws.

Even though the Clinton Foundation donation occurred the same year as the meeting at Mrs. Clinton’s home, McAuliffe has insisted there was nothing wrong with the Clinton Foundation. ‘This has nothing to do with the Clinton Foundation,’ McAuliffe said this spring.

Nonetheless, the revelations about Wang are likely to complicate Hillary Clinton’s efforts to put questions about her family foundation’s foreign fundraising to rest before the November election. Mrs. Clinton vowed to not accept foreign donations to the foundation if she becomes president.

The U.S. State Department and the Clinton Foundation did not return calls seeking comment Thursday night.

A spokesman for Mr. Wang was quoted in prior media reports that he didn’t do anything improper.

Source: http://circa.com/world/global-news/figure-in-china-vote-buying-scandal-has-ties-to-clinton-foundation

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Billionaire businessman at the centre China’s vote-buying scandal — New York University, the Clinton Foundation, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe — 45 Members of China’s Legislature Expelled

September 16, 2016

Billionaire businessman at the centre China’s vote-buying scandal

By Michael Forsythe

Hong Kong: China’s legislature has expelled 45 of its members in a vote-buying scandal that has snared a prominent businessman active in donating to US universities, foundations and political campaigns.

Some of the legislators whose dismissals were announced on Tuesday, all from the economically struggling north-eastern province of Liaoning, had bribed their way into the National People’s Congress by buying votes, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.

Delegates at National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Forty-five members have been ...

Delegates at National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Forty-five members have been expelled after allegations of vote-buying.  Photo: QILAI SHEN

The nearly 3000 members of the congress, which meets as a full body for less than two weeks each March, ratify laws and government programs, usually with little drama. Members are mostly voted in by lower-ranking organisations, including provincial congresses.

The nearly 3000 members of the congress, which meets as a full body for less than two weeks each March, ratify laws and government programs, usually with little drama. Members are mostly voted in by lower-ranking organisations, including provincial congresses.

The businessman, Wang Wenliang, is a billionaire who made his fortune in the construction business and from operating a strategic port on the North Korean border. Wang has also been linked with entities holding hidden stakes in three condominiums in the Time Warner Center in New York.

Billionaire business man Wang Wenliang.

Billionaire business man Wang Wenliang.  Photo: Liu yuanrui

Through his companies, Wang has donated to US universities, charities, research institutes and political campaigns, including New York University, the Clinton Foundation and the successful 2013 campaign for Virginia governor of Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat. Though Wang is a Chinese citizen, he is also a legal permanent resident of the United States, which entitles him to make campaign contributions.

A woman answering the phone at the China Rilin Construction Group, a company in Liaoning where Wang serves as chairman, said that he was on a business trip and unavailable to comment.

Sig Rogich, an advisor to Wang who is based in Las Vegas, said his client was a philanthropist, an environmentalist and “a man of great integrity”.

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress, told legislators on Tuesday that the bribery scandal, which resulted in the expulsion of almost half of the province’s delegation, was unprecedented in the history of the People’s Republic of China, Xinhua reported. He vowed to show “no mercy”.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at the Democratic National Convention earlier in the year. The  billionaire ...

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at the Democratic National Convention earlier in the year. The billionaire businessman at the centre China’s vote-buying scandal also donated to McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign.  Photo: CAROLYN KASTER

Often derided as a rubber-stamp legislature, the congress and its companion advisory body have in recent years become a club for some of China’s wealthiest executives, keen to rub elbows with government officials. Holding such high office also brings prestige and, much like a peerage or knighthood in Britain, is seen as a marker of status in the Communist Party-dominated establishment. In China, it is sometimes known as “wearing the red hat”.

“People within the system can trade interests,” said Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University in Beijing. “Whoever gets elected will have a pass to do so.”

National People's Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang; ''No mercy''.

National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang; ”No mercy”.  Photo: VINCENT YU

Serving as a legislator has become so attractive to the wealthy that last year, of the 1271 richest Chinese people tracked by the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, a record 203, or more than one in seven, were delegates to the National People’s Congress or its advisory body. The richest person that year among all three branches of the US government,  congressman Darrell Issa of California, would only rank as the 166th richest if he were a Chinese legislator.

“For reasons that don’t make sense to outsiders given the ‘rubber-stamp’ nature of the NPC, membership in any honorary body is coveted by people who see it as a mark of social status, something to add to their resumes,” said Suzanne Pepper, a scholar based in Hong Kong who studies Chinese elections.

Many of the expelled delegates are executives of private businesses or leaders of state-owned companies, rather than career politicians and military officers, who are also well represented on the body.

The vote-buying scandal in Liaoning has been brewing for at least five years, with hundreds of officials in its provincial bodies accused of engaging in the bribery, according to a report in Caixin, a well-regarded Chinese news magazine. The report, posted online Tuesday, has since been taken off the internet.

In 2013, in the southern province of Hunan, 56 provincial legislators in one city had offered more than 110 million renminbi ($22 million) in vote-related bribes to lower-ranking officials there, Xinhua reported at the time.

Delegates to the National People’s Congress are elected for five-year terms. The current term began in 2013.

News that China faced new accusations of election fraud has drawn some tart comments on social media from people who are not accustomed to what for some in other countries can be an all-consuming obsession with following electoral politics.

“When I saw the news about the vote-buying scandal in Liaoning, I was shocked,” wrote one user on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. “I didn’t know there were elections in the motherland!”

The scandal came as journalists were attacked and forced out of a fishing village where China has suppressed protests five years after the village received international attention for demonstrations against land seizures.

Wukan remains under siege two days after police arrested 13 protesters in an early-morning raid on allegations that they incited violence and arrest.

Reporters from two Hong Kong newspapers, the South China Morning Post and the Chinese-language Ming Pao, were assaulted on Wednesday night while conducting interviews and later detained for several hours, both newspapers reported.

The BBC also reported that its journalists in Wukan were stopped from entering the village.

AP reported Chinese state media saying that life in the village was back to normal on Thursday.

The Global Times, a state-run newspaper, accused journalists of trying to visit Wukan to “wait for conflicts”.

“Even though some foreign media have been unscrupulously inciting, planning, and directing chaos, local police have not resorted to violence to solve the issue,” its column said.

The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association told AP it “strongly condemns” violence against reporters in Wukan and called on the Hong Kong government to “take effective measures to protect the rights and safety of Hong Kong journalists working in the mainland”.

New York Times, AP

http://www.smh.com.au/world/china-expels-45-legislators–including-one-with-us-clinton-links–over-fraud-20160915-grgzc6.html