Agriculture chief removed amid graft probe

The country’s agriculture minister, under investigation by Beijing’s graft watchdog for potential corruption, has been removed from the leadership roster on the ministry’s website, a change analysts said could delay China’s food security plans.

Tang Renjian (pic), 61, was placed under investigation for “serious violations of discipline and law” by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and National Supervisory Commission, according to an official statement on Saturday.

The phrase is CCDI’s typical euphemism for corruption.

The move to investigate Tang, also the head of China’s food security campaign, was unusually swift.

“Once an investigation like this is announced it is essentially a foregone conclusion that the official will be removed from their role,” Even Pay, an agriculture analyst at Trivium China, said yesterday.

Under Tang, the ministry had stepped up its food security policies and will on June 1 implement a new law aimed at ensuring the self-sufficiency of grains.

Analysts said Tang’s removal is unlikely to cause major changes to China’s food security goals, but may delay its implementation.

“There is a risk that turmoil within the ministry as a result of Tang’s investigation could slow down implementation timelines or result in further difficulty for officials that worked closely with Tang, depending on the focus of that investigation,” Pay said.

“Still, because food security is so important to Xi Jinping, it is unlikely that major disruptions or delays will be tolerated.”

While the policy direction for food security is jointly coordinated by several ministries and departments, the agriculture ministry is the main body overseeing the rural economy.

“His downfall follows serious economic decline in rural areas in recent years,” said Ma Wenfeng, senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultancy. — Reuters

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