China`s Railway Minister dismissed due to graft probe

Chinese Railways is regarded as the world`s largest network.

Beijing: China`s long-serving Railway Minister was on Friday dismissed from his post after being removed from the key party position on account of a graft probe against him.

The Standing Committee of the National People`s Congress (NPC), the top legislature of China, approved the dismissal of Liu Zhijun from the post of railways minister, the official media reported.

He was earlier removed from the post of the Communist Party of China`s (CPC) chief of the Railways Ministry.

The party`s discipline watchdog said he was under investigation for alleged "severe violation of discipline".

The official media said that Liu who was minister for nine years overseeing the largest expansion of rail network involving billions of dollars faced corruption charges.

He was replaced by Sheng Guangzu, former head of the General Administration of Customs (GAC).

According reports Liu, 58 was being investigated for his links to a high-profile businesswoman who supplied equipment for China`s fast developing high speed railway network.

Liu`s fall is directly linked to an earlier government investigation into Ding Shumiao, a businesswoman from Shanxi province, who made a fortune by supplying high-speed railway equipment, according to the state-run newspaper.

Ding owned Beijing Broad Union Investment Management Group, which has stakes in the Wuhan-Guangzhou and several other high speed railway projects launched in 2009.

Chinese Railways, regarded as the world`s largest network last year had a budget of USD 106 billion and according to official reports the ministry was set to spend similar amount this year mainly focussing on the high-speed
network, which is dramatically reducing travel times between the key cities despite criticism from public that the fares were extremely costly and unaffordable.