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Published: Friday June 27, 2014 MYT 5:23:10 PM
Updated: Friday June 27, 2014 MYT 5:23:10 PM

Party boss of China's Guangzhou investigated for graft

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese Communist Party boss of the southern city of Guangzhou is being investigated for corruption, the party's anti-corruption body said on Friday, the latest target of President Xi Jinping's war on graft.

Wan Qingliang was suspected of "serious disciplinary violations", the usual euphemism for graft, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said. It provided no other details and it was not possible to reach Wan for comment.

China is in the midst of a sweeping campaign against deep-rooted corruption launched by Xi after he became head of the Communist Party two years ago, warning the problem is so serious it threatens the party's very survival.

The commission said the party had also expelled a former senior official in charge of the controversial petitioning system, accusing him of taking bribes, adultery and other violations of the law.

The system of petitions dates back to imperial times as a means for citizens to bring grievances to the attention of government officials by bypassing the legal system or authorities, especially at the local level.

The commission said Xu Jie, formerly deputy head of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, was responsible for a series of cases involving the bureau's office that receives petitioners "severely violating party discipline and the law".

An investigation found that Xu abused his position by demanding and receiving bribes, it said in a statement released in its website. Xu was also an adulterer, the commission added, without providing details. Party officials are supposed to be morally upstanding.

Xu will be handed over to judicial authorities and be dealt with "in accordance with the law".

The southwestern province of Sichuan, which was a powerbase of the influential former domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang, has emerged as one of the front lines of the anti-corruption campaign.

Sources have told Reuters that Zhou has been put under virtual house arrest while the party conducts a graft probe, though Beijing has yet to make an announcement about his case.

The former party boss of the small Sichuan city of Ya'an was sacked for taking bribes, as well as having improper sexual relationships with married women, the commission said in a separate announcement on Friday.

This week, the largely ceremonial advisory body to parliament expelled a former senior Sichuan military official, Ye Wanyong, though it did not give a reason.

The military has been another target of the corruption fight. In March, China charged former senior army officer Gu Junshan with graft, in what is likely to be the country's worst military scandal in years.

Gu has been charged with corruption, taking bribes, misuse of public funds and abuse of power.

(Reporting by Li Hui, Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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