Ex-Chairman of Shipbuilder CSIC Expelled from Chinese Communist Party

Hu Wenming, 2018 (file image courtesy China Merchants)

Published Jan 4, 2021 2:05 PM by The Maritime Executive

The former chairman and party chief of the former China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) has been expelled from the Communist Party of China after an inquiry by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's top anti-corruption watchdog. 

Hu Wenming, who once ran China's aircraft carrier program, stands accused of "severely violating party discipline" and taking bribes, according to the commission. Investigators found that Hu had "lost his faith, gone astray from the Party spirit . . . engaged in superstitious activities, resisted the investigation and violated Party discipline by accepting banquets and bribes," according to state-owned outlet Global Times. In addition, he allegedly broke Party policy by “illegally playing golf, visiting private clubs . . . and taking gifts and gratuities while arranging for subordinate units to pay expenses that should be paid by him personally." 

The expulsion means that Hu will lose his Party retirement benefits, and all of the alleged bribes he received will be seized. The investigation into his activities will be handed over to prosecutors for follow-up. 

Hu had a long background in the Chinese defense establishment, including posts at CSSC, Aviation Industry Corporation of China and the arms manufacturer NORINCO (China North Industries Group Corporation). At CSIC, he was in charge of the development of China's aircraft carrier program, including the design and construction of the country's first two domestically-built carriers. 

Hu is the third top CSIC executive to face an anti-corruption investigation in recent years. In 2018, ex-general manager Sun Bo was expelled from the Party, convicted of taking bribes and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Though he was not charged with spying, Sun was also suspected of leaking information about the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning to foreign powers, according to the South China Morning Post. 

In late 2017, Liu Changhong, CSIC's head of discipline, was also charged with corruption. CCDI alleged that he used his "authority at CSIC to reap personal gains and accepted bribes.” At the time, the agency also warned that there were other top officials at CSIC who had "a weak sense of discipline, and some . . . abused their authority for personal gains."

CSIC was folded into China State Shipbuilding Corporation in 2019, making one giant conglomerate under CSSC's management. The re-merger recreated the mega-company that existed before 1999, the year that CSSC's northern shipyard units were spun off to create CSIC. With CSIC back under its wing, CSSC is now the world's largest commercial shipbuilder, as well as the primary shipbuilder for the People's Liberation Army Navy.