Top Chinese diplomat being investigated for corruption

Mr Zhang Kunsheng
Image caption Mr Zhang is being investigated for 'violating discipline'

A senior Chinese diplomat is being investigated for corruption, China's foreign ministry says.

Zhang Kunsheng has been removed from his position as assistant foreign minister and is being probed for "violating discipline", a brief statement from the ministry read.

President Xi Jinping has vowed to eradicate corruption in China.

State media described Mr Zhang as the highest-ranking diplomat to be targeted in the anti-corruption drive.

The anti-corruption campaign has netted thousands of officials since it began in 2012, among them former security chief Zhou Yongkang in 2014.

The foreign ministry said Mr Zhang was "suspected of violating discipline", an official euphemism for corruption.

Mr Zhang, from central Shanxi province, ranks the first out of four assistant foreign ministers. His last public appearance was at a speech he gave at a regional forum in December.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ling Jihua, formerly President Hu Jintao's most senior aide, was accused of trying to cover up a scandal involving his son

Local media said that the investigation into Mr Zhang was suspected to be related to the recent downfall of former senior presidential aide Ling Jihua.

The ministry's website also showed Mr Zhang's role as head of the ministry's protocol department, which oversees diplomatic ceremonies, as being taken over by ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

China's foreign ministry was also implicated in another scandal last year, when its ambassador to Iceland vanished amid reports that he had been arrested for selling state secrets to Japan.

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