A Chinese assistant foreign minister has been sacked and placed under investigation for suspected corruption, the foreign ministry said on Friday.
Reuters said this is the first time a top diplomat has been caught in the country’s sweeping campaign against graft.
Zhang Kunsheng is “suspected of violating discipline and is being investigated”, the ministry said in a statement, using a euphemism for corruption. It provided no other details.
Zhang was the most senior of the country’s four assistant foreign ministers, who rank below the vice foreign ministers, and was in charge of the protocol department, the news agency said, citing local media reports.
Qin Gang, who was the ministry’s chief spokesman, has assumed the protocol position, according to Chinese newspaper reports.
Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao will be acting chief spokesman, a role he previously had, the reports also said.
President Xi Jinping has cracked down on corruption since assuming office two years ago, warning that the problem could affect the Communist Party’s ability to maintain power.
While the foreign ministry is one of the only government departments which regularly answer questions from foreign reporters and so has a high profile, it has little power or influence compared with other ministries.
The ministry was implicated in another scandal last year, when China’s ambassador to Iceland vanished amid reports in overseas Chinese media that he had been arrested for passing on secrets to Japan.
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