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China probes former Zhou Yongkang secretary Ji Wenlin

AP

China’s ruling Communist Party said Tuesday that a former close aide of ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang, currently serving as vice governor of the southern island province of Hainan, is under investigation for serious violations, an apparent reference to corruption.

Ji Wenlin is one of the latest high-ranking officials to be investigated since party leader and President Xi Jinping launched an anti-corruption drive after taking over as head of the ruling Communist Party last spring.

The party’s disciplinary body also said in a terse one-line statement that Ji is suspected of serious violations of regulations and the law. That’s almost always a reference to accepting bribes and kickbacks, providing unauthorized favors, and other forms of personal malfeasance, although the statement provided no further details.

On Wednesday, the party announced that Zhu Zuoli, vice chairman of the top political advisory body of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in the northwestern province of Shaanxi also is under investigation for serious violations of party disciplines and laws. The party gave no details on Zhu’s suspected violations.

As with several others who have fallen during the course of the campaign, Ji has personal and professional connections to the powerful former Chinese security czar Zhou Yongkang, currently the subject of a rumored investigation.

Xi has made fighting China’s endemic corruption a key campaign in his leadership so far, with promises to target both junior and high-level officials.

Investigations have so far targeted businesspeople, senior executives in the state oil sector — Zhou’s former power base — and most recently, a vice minister of public security. Ji was a key aide to Zhou in the last three of his central government positions, before taking up a series of positions in Hainan’s local government.

Although rumors are rife, no official word has been released about any investigation into Zhou, who until 2012 was a member of the party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.