China’s Communist Party has begun a corruption inquiry into a top official in the south-western province of Sichuan, the most senior person to be investigated since Xi Jinping became the party’s leader.
Sichuan’s deputy party boss, Li Chuncheng, was being investigated by the party’s discipline watchdog, according to several state media reports yesterday, including one from the official Xinhua news agency.
Sichuan party authorities announced the investigation on Monday and Mr Li did not appear as scheduled at a propaganda meeting on Tuesday, the media said.
However, by early afternoon yesterday the Youth Daily and Xinhua websites had deleted their reports on Mr Li without explanation.
New party chief Mr Xi warned last month at one of his first major meetings since taking on his new role that if corruption was allowed to run wild, then the Communist Party risked major unrest and the collapse of its rule.
Mr Xi, who will formally assume the presidency in March, has already appointed Wang Qishan, a man known as “the chief firefighter” for his ability to deal with crises, as his top corruption fighter.
Mr Li had served in Sichuan since 1998 and had been party chief of its prosperous provincial capital, Chengdu. He was appointed the province’s deputy party boss in September last year.
Mr Li was also elected to the party’s Central Committee, a ruling council, at last month’s congress as an alternate member.