Cao Guangjing, vice-governor of Hubei Province, is currently undergoing disciplinary review and supervisory investigation for serious violations of discipline and law, according to the official website of China’s top anti-corruption bodies.
News of the investigation, as reported by Beijing News (a CCP-owned newspaper), is based on information posted to the official website of the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline of Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission of the People’s Republic of China.
All other official media, including state-controlled outlets such as CCTV News, China News Service and Xinhua, simply posted the announcement without further detail. But most did make mention of the same detail. For three decades, Cao Guangjing not only worked for China Three Gorges Corp. (CTGC), which built China’s massive Three Gorges Dam, he was also chairman and CCP head of the hydropower giant from 2010 to 2014, before his appointment as vice governor of Hubei Province, the location of the dam’s construction.
Beijing News reports that one day prior to the announcement of Cao Guangjing’s disciplinary probe, he attended an official event as vice governor.
Due to the brevity of coverage, it is difficult to assess the gravity of Mr. Cao’s situation and what the outcome might be. What is certain is that the former boss of China Three Gorges Corp. is currently in hot water. In the words of one of the watchdogs investigating Mr. Cao, he is in their sights due to “serious violations of discipline and law”.
At the present time, it is unknown why or how implicated Mr. Cao is in “serious violations of discipline and law”. However, the Shanghai Observer (Shangguan News) reports that during his involvement with Three Gorges Corp., Mr. Cao was the recipient of a number of honours, including winner of a special government allowance awarded by the State Council in 2001. He was also named one of China’s Top Ten Sci-Tech News People in 2003 and nominated as one of China’s Top Ten Outstanding Young People in 2003.
When Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, Cao Guangjing represented Three Gorges Corp. for the last lap of the Olympic torch relay. The 19-km long relay route included the Three Gorges Dam site as the final stop, which ended in Yichang City with Mr. Cao as the last holder of the flame.
Reports at the time credit Mr. Cao for “working hard” on the frontlines of construction at the Three Gorges site for 18 years, seeing through the entire process from the project’s feasibility study, to its planning and construction; dedicating the prime of his life to the project. Reports describe Mr. Cao as working day and night during the three-year height of the project’s second phase of concrete pouring without paying a single visit to his mother.
The Shanghai Observer also notes that during Mr. Cao’s management of Three Gorges Corp., a number of financial problems were exposed by Chinese media. These included “funds earmarked for the resettlement” of Three Gorges migrants as having been “misappropriated,” as well as “money management violation,” and “construction mismanagement,” among other issues uncovered by the National Audit Office in 2013.
According to the Shanghai Observer, on March 24, 2014, Wang Jingqing, a deputy head of the Organization Department of the CCP Central Committee, announced at a company meeting that Cao Guangjing had been removed as both chairman and party secretary of Three Gorges Corp. after an anti-corruption watchdog had discovered problems at the state-owned enterprise.
It remains unknown whether the joint investigation launched by China’s disciplinary and supervisory watchdogs has anything to do with Mr. Cao’s time with Three Gorges Corp. But for the so-called world’s No. 1 hydro giant and a state enterprise of CTGC’s calibre, generating more power appears to mean generating more corruption.
As Dai Qing – China’s foremost environmental journalist and long-time critic of the dam – famously said as early as 2008: “Three Gorges dam is a black hole of corruption”.