China Telecom chairman resigns amid investigation by anti-graft agency

BEIJING, China – The chairman of one of China’s three main state-owned phone carriers resigned Wednesday following an announcement he is the target of an anti-corruption investigation.

China Telecom Ltd. chairman Chang Xiaobing is the latest in a string of dozens of executives at major state-owned companies to be detained or questioned in a steadily expanding, 3-year-old anti-graft crackdown led by President Xi Jinping.

Chang also resigned as chief executive, China Telecom announced. It said its chief operating officer, Yang Jie, would serve as chairman and CEO until a permanent replacement is named.

The ruling Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Sunday that Chang was suspected of “serious violations,” its term for corruption. The one-sentence announcement gave no details.

Chang, 55, joined China Telecom in August from China Unicom Ltd., another state-owned phone company. The party routinely moves executives around among companies in the same industry.

Chang is the most senior telecoms industry figure to be announced as a target of the anti-corruption campaign that has snared executives at state-owned energy, auto and other companies.

The crackdown brought down a former member of the party’s inner circle, Zhou Yongkang, who was sentenced to life in prison on corruption charges, and a former chairman of PetroChina Ltd., Asia’s biggest oil producer.

Executives of local units of China Mobile Ltd., the third main state-owned phone carrier, also have been detained by anti-graft investigators.