A top official in China’s Ministry of Public Security was on Wednesday sacked over “severe discipline violations,” state media reported, amid a widening corruption crackdown launched by the new Party leadership.

Li Dongsheng, who was earlier the Vice Minister of Public Security, had been placed under investigation last week, the official Xinhua news agency had reported.

An official circular on Wednesday said Mr. Li had been “removed from his various posts for alleged severe violations of disciplines.”

Mr. Li becomes the second member of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee to be removed in recent months, following a corruption crackdown launched by new leader Xi Jinping, who took over as President in March and subsequently pledged to crack down on both “tigers and flies,” referring to both senior officials and lower-level cadres, to assuage public resentment on rampant corruption.

Earlier this year, another Central Committee member Jiang Jiemin, who was a former head of a state-run oil firm, was sacked over corruption charges.

The purge of Mr. Li from the Public Security Ministry has stirred speculation over the fate of the former security czar Zhou Yongkang, who served on the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, the CPC’s highest body, before last year’s leadership change. Mr. Zhou, who started his career in the state-run oil sector, was known to have ties to both Mr. Li and Mr. Jiang.

Mr. Li, who was a well-known journalist working in state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), had been transferred to work as a senior security official under Mr. Zhou, in an appointment that had, at the time, surprised observers. He subsequently directed the central party organ in charge of cracking down on “cults” – an agency set up to primarily target the banned Falun Gong group.

The circular only said Mr. Li was removed for “suspected severe disciplinary violations,” usually used to reference corruption charges, although it did not provide any details.

Zhang Lifan, a Beijing historian and observer of party politics, told The Hindu earlier that the CPC was still weighing the benefits and costs of launching a full-blown investigation into Mr. Zhou, the once influential former security czar, pointing out that Politburo Standing Committee members had not been formally charged since the “Gang of Four” was brought down in 1976.

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