Head of China’s Shipbuilding Company Detained for Corruption

Published: 18 June 2018

640px-停泊于大连港的001AType 001A aircraft carrier (CC0 1.0)

By Jesse Chase-Lubitz

Sun Bo, the man in charge of building China’s new aircraft carrier, was detained for corruption charges, according to a brief statement made by the National Supervisory Commission of China on Saturday. The move reflects President Xi Jinping’s pledge to crack down on corruption.

The statement did not provide details and only said that Sun is “suspected of serious violation of laws and regulations and is currently undergoing disciplinary review and monitoring investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.” 

This is not the first time a China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) leader has been investigated by an anti-corruption watchdog, however. In 2016, Liu Changhong, CSIC’s head of discipline was expelled from the party and charged with corruption in October 2017, Seatrade Maritime News said.

Since his win in 2012, Jinping has gone after more than 1.5 million allegedly corrupt Communist Party officials. Though the swift anti-corruption measures heightened public trust in the party at first, critics see it as a threat to human rights. 

The government revealed its anti-corruption plans publicly in February 2018. However in addition to the creation of an anti-corruption watchdog called the National Supervision Commission (NSC), it also included the abolishment of presidential term limits, allowing Jinping to stay in office indefinitely, according to Foreign Affairs.

The Commission has the power to investigate anyone exercising public authority, including officials, managers in state-owned companies and managers of public schools, according to Human Rights Watch. It also has complete authority to detain and interrogate detainees without due process.  

“The Supervision Law...places tens of millions of people at the mercy of a secretive and virtually unaccountable system that is above the law,” Amnesty International’s East Asia Regional Director Nicholas Bequelin said. 

In addition to his public fight against corruption, President Xi Jinping has also made aggressive attempts to modernize, which is symbolized by the construction of the ship. 

CSIC is one of the two leading companies facilitating maritime modernization and it is at the forefront of naval construction. It develops nuclear and conventional submarines, aircraft carriers and China’s deep-sea research submersible Jiaolong, which can dive a record 7,062 meters, according to the South China Morning Post.

Specialists in the field of maritime security do not believe that Sun’s detainment will impact CSIC’s work.