Over 200 Officials in Xiamen, China Under House Arrest, Accused in Massive Smuggling OperationAired February 28, 2000 - 2:31 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In China, some 200 officials are under house arrest today, accused in a massive smuggling operation.
CNN Beijing bureau chief Rebecca MacKinnon with that story.
REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A dark cloud of scandal hangs over the port city of Xiamen in China's Fujian Province. In the city's commercial center stand the abandoned offices of the Fairwell Group (ph). Its president fled the country, a key figure, authorities say, in a $10 billion smuggling scandal.
XI JINPING, GOVERNOR, FUJIAN PROVINCE (through translator): Right now, we are investigating various threads in a big case. After it has been fully investigated, the case will be dealt with according to law.
MACKINNON: More than 200 officials are now under house arrest in this military-owned guest house, accused of accepting bribes to smuggle petroleum, cars, electronics, tobacco and other goods through Xiamen's busy port.
Little about the case has been reported in China's state- controlled media, but everybody here seems to know about the Fairwell Company and the half-built hotel and office complex it left behind.
(on camera): To the people of Xiamen, unfinished buildings like this one have become monuments to the corruption of their local leaders. But many here feel that Xiamen is by no means unique. And sources say the investigation that started here is expected to spread to other cities along the coast.
(voice-over): But the investigation seems to stop around the city limits of China's capital. Beijing's current party boss, Jia Qinglin, remains free of blame, although he was governor of Fujian Province when the smuggling ring is believed to have started.
Jia's wife, Lin Youfang (ph), recently went on a Hong Kong-based TV station to deny reports originating on the Internet and confirmed by Chinese official sources that she was investigated for her activities as former head of the Fujian Provincial government's official trading firm. Local sources in Xiamen say it's unlikely a person in Lin's position wouldn't have known what was going on.
But whatever the facts may be, Communist Party investigators holed up in this local hotel are not talking.
Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Xiamen, China.
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