More than 500 Chinese municipal lawmakers have resigned in the wake of a bribery scandal in south-central Hunan Province. State media reported that authorities also dismissed 56 provincial legislators over election fraud.
The move comes as part of a growing crackdown against corruption, which President Xi Jinping has launched since taking power.
Сounty-level bodies in Hengyang City accepted the resignations of some 512 municipal officials for taking bribes from 56 lawmakers of the Hunan People's Congress. The lawmakers offered cash in return for election votes, Xinhua reported.
According to a statement issued by the Hunan provincial legislature on Saturday, the 56 sacked deputies were found to have offered bribes to 518 lawmakers in Hengyang municipal People's Congress, as well as “another 68 staff.” The total amount of the bribes was more than 110 million yuan (US$18.1 million).
The news agency claimed that Tong Mingqian, former party chief of Hengyang, had been “directly responsible” for the scandalous incident.
“The number of people involved in the Hengyang election case are many, the amount of money large, the substance serious, the effect pernicious; this is a serious challenge to our People's Congresses system,” said Xinhua.
China’s provinces, cities, counties, and other administrative districts all have their own People’s Congresses. Those bodies tend to approve party decisions rather than make policies or facilitate debates. However, municipal officials have enough power to be included in the process of appointing the representatives of provincial assemblies.
Jinping asserted that he would take down both high-ranking “tigers” and low-level “flies” amid mass allegations and anger over corruption. However, an independent body has not yet been set up to oversee the crackdown.