According to the BBC, Reuters and various other news outlets, China’s Communist Party has dismissed its chief of workplace safety for suspicions of “serious breaches of discipline and the law,” a phrase euphemistically used interchangeably with corruption charges.
Tianjin probe surely did him no favors
Yang Dongliang, 61, found himself at the center of an investigation last week following suggestions that he may have been responsible for allowing companies to operate without licenses to handle and store dangerous chemicals. While state news agency Xinhua was the first to report the sacking, it stopped well short of suggesting that his removal from the post that he took the helm of in 2012 was related to the massive explosions in Tianjin left at least 135 people dead and over thirty still missing.
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In addition to the death toll, thousands have effectively been left homeless due to their proximity to the blast with many having their homes destroyed and many others’ houses being deemed unsafe.
It’s quite likely that Yang Dongliang will not be the only one facing the music following the investigation prompted by one of the worst industrial accidents in China’s history as China’s top prosecutor has vowed to investigate all that may have played a part in the explosion.
Prior to taking the job as chief of the work safety group, Yang Dongliang worked for the Tianjin city government for 18 years including a stint as one of the city’s vice-mayors. Tianjin, a northern port city, is home to around 15 million people.
His son Yang Hui, a deputy general manager of the CNOOC Gas & Power Group, a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corporation was also taken into custody in the same investigation and is believed to have strong ties to Tianjin due to his father’s positions in local government.
Work in China’s petrochemical industry
Yang’s career was firmly rooted in the petrochemical industry begin his work as an oil field driller prior to taking the position of deputy general manager of Tianjin United Chemical where he was then promoted to work for the municipal government. Nearly 10 years ago, Yang was charged to inspect a chemical plant that also blasts rock Tianjin.
According to the Qq.com report, unnamed sources suggested that he did a thorough job and went so far as to say that he “took the initiative and worked very hard”, while describing him as “very practical and very resourceful at work.”
Since the sitting of the 18th (Communist) party congress, five members of the party’s Central Committee have been stripped of their posts prior to Yang’s removal becoming the sixth.