The deputy governor of Liaoning province, Liu Ketian, has been detained following a Communist Party investigation, a provincial government official said yesterday.
The official said Mr Liu was detained by the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection after a recent internal party meeting but refused to discuss the reason for the investigation.
It is still unclear whether Mr Liu's detention is linked to his former boss, Zhang Guoguang, who was governor of Liaoning from 1998 to 2001.
Zhang is now facing trial for his role in one of the mainland's biggest corruption scandals, which involved dozens of provincial officials.
The scandal, exposed in 1999, resulted in many high-ranking officials being sent to jail.
Mu Suixin, the former mayor of Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, was given a suspended death sentence in 2001. Shenyang's former deputy mayor, Ma Xiangdong, was executed in the same year for embezzlement and taking bribes.
The Wen Wei Po newspaper yesterday quoted sources as saying that Mr Liu, 52, allegedly condoned his relatives' involvement in illegal activities.
The newspaper report said his wife had been detained by the party earlier.
Mr Liu's detention has not been officially announced in the state media.
Yesterday, his biographical information was still accessible on the Liaoning provincial government website.
He became the vice-mayor of Shenyang in 1990 and was promoted to deputy governor of Liaoning in 1995.
He oversaw the work of business, foreign trade and commerce agencies, the overseas Chinese and Taiwan bureaus as well as customs and quarantine bureaus.
It is believed that the central government is sending a strong warning to high-ranking officials by taking a tough stance on corruption committed by lower cadres.