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China vice police minister investigated: Communist Party

Chinese paramilitary police march beneath a portrait of late leader Mao Zedong beside Tiananmen Square in Beijing on December 13, 2013
Chinese paramilitary police march beneath a portrait of late leader Mao Zedong beside Tiananmen Square in Beijing on December 13, 2013

China's ruling Communist Party said Friday it was investigating a vice police minister for alleged disciplinary violations, the latest official to be targeted in a high-profile campaign to root out corruption.

Li Dongsheng, a vice minister of public security, is being probed for "severe violations of discipline and the law", the party's internal Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a single sentence announcement on its website, using a phrase that usually indicates alleged corruption.

The commission is the party's internal graft watchdog and may or may not pass cases on to the criminal justice system.

Li is one of nine people with the rank of vice minister at the Ministry of Public Security, the government department in charge of policing.

He also serves as a vice secretary on the ministry's party committee as well as deputy head of a leading group that deals with the prevention and handling of issues related to cults, the commission announcement said.

The powerful ministry is one of China's most important with responsibility for helping maintain order in the world's most populous country of 1.35 billion people and one where the party is unwilling to tolerate challenge to its rule.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has taken a hard line against graft, waste and extravagance since coming to power a little over one year ago.

He has warned that corruption could destroy the party and threatened to crack down on high-ranking officials, described as "tigers", along with low-level "flies".

Xi became head of the party in November 2012 and took over as state president in March this year, the culmination of a highly choreographed, once-in-a-decade leadership transition.

So far, more than a dozen officials at vice-ministerial level or above have been ensnared in the corruption crackdown.

Late last month, the commission announced that Guo Youming, vice governor of the central province of Hubei, was under investigation.

News of the probe into Li comes as speculation has increased in recent weeks that the anti-corruption campaign is set to go after a former member of the party's most elite group.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that Xi had given the go-ahead for an investigation into Zhou Yongkang, one of China's most powerful politicians of the last decade.

Zhou was a member of the party's elite Politburo Standing Committee -- the handful of men who make China's key decisions -- until 2012 and was in charge of China's internal security.

If confirmed, the reported probe of Zhou would be the first time for decades that such a high-ranking figure has been targeted in a formal inquiry.

The paper cited what it described as "sources with elite political ties", though did not identify them by name.

Xi heads the Politburo Standing Committee, which currently consists of seven people, down from the total of nine when Zhou was a member.

Besides graft, the party is also going after extravagance among its members, banning the delicacy shark fin from banquets and issuing warnings over accepting expensive gifts.

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