China anti-corruption campaign snares deputy manager of iconic liquor maker Moutai



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BEIJING — A top official at iconic Chinese state-owned liquor maker Moutai has been snared in the country's ongoing anti-corruption campaign, the ruling Communist Party's anti-graft body said Thursday.

Kweichow Moutai Group deputy general manager Fang Guoxing is under investigation for serious violations of discipline, the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection said on its website.

The term almost always refers to corruption, although the one-sentence announcement gave no further details.

While Fang wasn't among the company's top executives, he was formerly party boss of the city of Renhuai where the firm is located and with whom it maintained a close relationship.

It wasn't clear whether the allegations stemmed from Fang's role at Moutai, or from his 2006-2013 term as Renhuai party boss, during which the city was rocked by unrest tied to building demolitions and land disputes.

A fiery spirit distilled from sorghum and wheat, Moutai is considered China's national drink and is a staple at government and military functions.

That has placed it among the symbols of government excess and corruption, characterized by lavish entertaining at taxpayer expense. Critics say it is also a tool of corruption because cases are sold at a discount to officials who then sell them onward for a profit.

President Xi Jinping has cracked down on such practices, and a campaign against extravagance and corruption now well into its second year has sent shockwaves through the 86.7 million-member Communist Party.

More than 74,000 of its members have been punished for extravagance during the campaign that formally ended in September but has continued to claim scalps. A former top general and an ex-member of the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee are among the highest-level officials targeted.

The party warns that corruption is the biggest threat to its 65-year iron grip on power in China, although it flatly refuses to accept independent supervision.

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