Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Denies Smuggling Role Of Politburo Member's Wife

BEIJING -- The Chinese government for the first time Wednesday publicly denied reports that the wife of a senior leader was involved in China's worst smuggling scandal in 50 years of communist rule.

Zhao Qizheng, the top spokesman for the State Council or Cabinet, confirmed that an investigation, already in its fifth month, was continuing into the smuggling scandal centered on the port of Xiamen in the southeastern province of Fujian.

But he denied widespread reports in Hong Kong and foreign media that Jia Qinglin, Beijing's Communist Party boss and a prot?g? of Chinese President Jiang Zemin, divorced his wife, Lin Youfang, after she was implicated in the scandal.

"She has not been investigated. There's no such thing. She has not divorced. She is living very normally, like you and I,'' Zhao said.

Before Zhao's comments, the communist leadership had kept quiet about thescandal and ordered a news blackout in the entirely state-controlled media. But word that Jia's wife was involved has circulated on Chinese web sites, edging the scandal into the public eye.

Dozens of officials have come under suspicion in the smuggling of billions of dollars worth of oil, cars, cigarettes and other goods through Xiamen, a bustling port facing Taiwan. The leadership's top graft fighter, Wei Jianxing, is supervising a 700-member investigative team.

A state-run newspaper's web site reported Tuesday that 80 billion yuan ($9.8 billion) worth of goods were smuggled through Xiamen and that 159 people were involved. The web site also reported that Jia's wife, Lin, was implicated. But on Wednesday it ran another story that quoted official sources as denying her involvement.

Jia ran the government and Communist Party in Fujian for several of the years in which the alleged smuggling in Xiamen took place. His wife, Lin, was an executive with Fujian Province Import and Export Co., the provincial government's trading firm.