China to prosecute former Unicom official in graft crackdown


BEIJING (Reuters) - China will prosecute for graft a former senior executive at its second-largest telecom carrier China Unicom, the anti-corruption agency of the ruling Communist Party said on Friday.

Zong Xinhua, formerly in charge of China Unicom's e-commerce and information technology unit, joins a long list of officials at state-run firms ensnared in the party dragnet.

These include many at China National Petroleum Corporation, the energy giant associated with the disgraced politician Zhou Yongkang.

Last month, China said it would prosecute Zhang Zhijiang, who previously headed China Unicom's network construction division.

The party graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said Zong had "seriously violated discipline and is suspected of committing crimes", a common euphemism for corruption and engaging in bribery.

China Unicom declined to comment, referring instead to its dismissal of Zong. He had been removed from his post in December after the watchdog named him the target of a corruption probe, part of President Xi Jinping's widespread anti-corruption drive.

In November, senior anti-graft officials said they would shift their attention back to China's sprawling state-owned enterprises, which have long been plagued by underperformance and corruption despite reform efforts by central leaders.

The last large anti-graft campaign in the telecom sector was in 2011, when several China Mobile officials were caught in bribery schemes and at least one received a death sentence.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)