China removes top official of free trade zone
Shanghai: China has removed a senior official of its much-heralded Shanghai free-trade zone (FTZ) less than a year after it was opened, state media said today, amid reports he was under investigation for corruption.
The official Xinhua news agency said Dai Haibo was no longer the Communist Party chief and executive deputy director of the zone, which was set up on September 29 last year. It gave no reason.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post today quoted anonymous sources as saying he was suspected of “disciplinary violations”, a phrase which typically refers to corruption.
Dai was the public face of the FTZ, appearing at news conferences and running the zone’s administration on a day-to-day basis.
When China launched the FTZ last year, officials promised widespread reform including free convertibility of the yuan currency, but the slow pace of change has frustrated businesses, especially foreign companies.
In July, Shanghai released a revised “negative list” of what is barred in the FTZ following criticism the previous list was too long, but the changes were limited.
At a press conference to unveil the new list, Dai continued to tout the benefits of the FTZ.
“The Shanghai free trade zone is a test field for the country’s deepening of reform and opening,” he told reporters at the time.