By WAYNE MA
BEIJING -- A top Chinese oil executive has become the latest senior official to come under scrutiny by the nation's top antigraft agency, as Beijing faces pressure to crack down on official corruption.
In a one-sentence statement, China's Ministry of Supervision said Monday it was investigating Wang Yongchun, a vice president at state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. for "severe disciplinary violations." Though it didn't disclose further details, such phrasing is typically used by Chinese officials when investigating cases of alleged corruption.
A CNPC spokesman declined to comment.
The move is the latest in a string of cases targeting high-ranking officials at government agencies and state-owned enterprises amid a campaign by President Xi Jinping, who acknowledged the threat corruption poses to China's leaders after he took the Communist Party's top post last year. China Mobile said last week that a provincial head and former senior executive is being probed by the Chinese government for the same reason.
Mr. Wang, 53 years old, has been in charge of China's largest oil field in the northeastern Daqing region since 2009 and has been one of six vice presidents at CNPC since 2011, according to the company's website. CNPC is the country's largest oil and gas producer by volume.
Industry insiders said Mr. Wang was a potential candidate for chairman of CNPC after Jiang Jiemin left the post in March to become head of the commission that oversees China's state-owned companies. However, Zhou Jiping, who was CNPC's president, was eventually named to the top post in April after briefly serving as interim chairman.
In recent months, Mr. Wang has met with visiting energy officials from Indonesia and South Sudan to discuss upstream oil-and-gas development, according to an internal CNPC newsletter. Last week, Mr. Wang finished up a four-day tour of CNPC's operations in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province with the company's No. 2 official, Liao Yongyuan, the newsletter said.
Mr. Wang's investigation comes after the anti-graft agency launched a similar probe in May targeting Liu Tienan, one of 10 deputy directors at China's top economic-planning body. Mr. Liu served as head of the National Energy Administration from 2008 until March, when he was replaced during an annual meeting of China's parliament. Mr. Liu was expelled from China's Communist Party this month for bribe taking, according to China's official Xinhua news agency.
Chinese officials have worked to show their enthusiasm for rooting out corruption and taming opulent official lifestyles, with moves that including calling for modest meals instead of banquets and warnings to executives at state-owned companies to closely watch greedy relatives.
State media have stressed the corruption push amid the trial of Bo Xilai, a former Communist Party stare accused of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. His trial concluded on Monday, and a verdict is expected next month.
Dow Jones Newswires