'Morally corrupted' ex-railways boss axed by China's Communist Party

Poor management was blamed for the high speed collision in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province in July 2011.

Story highlights

  • Liu Zhijun had been under investigation since February 2011, report said
  • Accused of taking bribes, being responsible for severe corruption in railways system
  • Liu linked to rail crash in July 2011 that led to 40 deaths, 172 injuries
  • Report revealed major design flaws, relaxed safety controls, poor emergency response

China's former railway minister has become the latest senior figure to be expelled from the Communist Party after being found guilty of corruption.

Liu Zhijun had been under investigation since February 2011, when he was removed from his position on suspicion of "serious disciplinary violations," China's state-run Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.

According to a statement issued by the CPC's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), Liu was accused of using his position "to seek huge illegal interests for Ding Yuxin, chairman of Beijing Boyou Investment Management Corporation, which caused great economic losses and negative social influence."

Liu, who was labeled as "morally corrupted" in the statement, was accused of taking "a huge amount of bribes and bore the major responsibility for severe corruption in the railways system," Xinhua said.

Last year, Liu was one of 54 officials linked to a train crash that killed 40 people.

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In the wake of the July collision of two high-speed trains, which also injured 172 people according to government figures, many in China expressed fury at the government, particularly in posts online. Some alleged corruption and efforts to cover up the tragedy -- charges the government denied.

However, a subsequent report found that major design flaws in train operating equipment, relaxed safety controls and poor emergency response to equipment failure caused the crash, Xinhua said.

Liu and the railway ministry's deputy chief engineer, Zhang Shuguang -- who had both been fired in February -- were held chiefly responsible for the crash, along with Ma Cheng, chairman of the board at China Railway Signal and Communication Corp., the producer of the railway signaling system.

Tuesday's statement added that Liu might also have violated criminal law, so his case will also be turned over to the courts. It said his illegal gains have been confiscated.

Earlier this year, Bo Xilai, a popular but polarizing politician, was dismissed as Communist Party chief of Chongqing, the biggest metropolis in China.

The rise and fall of Bo Xilai

His right-hand man and former top cop Wang Lijun spectacularly sought refuge in an American consulate apparently fearing for his life and allegedly holding incriminating information on his old boss.

Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was also accused of corruption and implicated in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.