A local party official from Shanxi province has been removed from office, apparently as part of an investigation into the son of retired public security tsar Zhou Yongkang, mainland media have reported.
Officials in Luliang city announced the removal of city mayor and deputy party chief, Ding Xuefeng after a meeting on Thursday. A report on the action by the official Luliang Daily gave no reason for the move.
But the China Business Journal said, citing anonymous sources, that Ding had a close relationship with Zhou Bin, who is the elder son of Zhou Yongkang and believed to be under investigation for corruption.
Zhou Bin was one of a group of businessman who contributed to a fund to help Ding run for the mayor's office in January 2012, the newspaper said. Ding later distributed the cash raised among his allies, it said.
He was formally confirmed as mayor in March 2012.
Ding last appeared in public on December 25, when he attended a briefing on the development of city infrastructure. He was absent from a city-level party meeting held five days later and he did not attend any official Lunar New Year celebrations.
Ding's profile has also been removed from the city government website.
Many businessmen from Luliang have been questioned by the authorities investigating Ding, the China Business Journal said.
Dong Yan, a deputy party chief from Changzhi, has been transferred to Luliang and is the top candidate for replacing Ding in the mayor's office.
The Beijing News reported last month that Ding was implicated in a corruption investigation against the former deputy public security minister Li Dongsheng.
Li was a close ally of the elder Zhou, a retired member of the supreme Politburo Standing Committee. The newspaper, citing anonymous sources, said Li had helped to advance Ding's political career.
The South China Morning Post reported in August that President Xi Jinping and other top party leaders had authorised an investigation into the elder Zhou, as part of a broad nationwide anti-corruption campaign.
Rumours have been rife in recent months that authorities will soon formally announce the investigation into Zhou's affairs.
Central authorities began briefing officials last month on the findings of the corruption case centred on Zhou, but the investigation has never been acknowledged publicly by the government or reported openly by the mainland media.