Jiao Li , a former close aide to top Communist Party propaganda official Liu Yunshan , has been dismissed as deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) in a sign that he could face party discipline over rumoured links to corruption and sex scandals.
His biographical details have been removed from a section on the administration's official website about its leaders. A GAPP official refused yesterday to say when he was dismissed.
"But as far as I know he's never come to work at GAPP," the official added.
Jiao, 57, was transferred to GAPP, the mainland's top press regulator, in January after being abruptly removed as president of China Central Television (CCTV) in November.
A mid-ranking CCTV official, who declined to be named, said yesterday that Jiao, who became the state broadcaster's president in May 2009, had been unpopular for introducing a number of controversial measures, including a drastic pay cut.
She said Jiao also stoked widespread discontent with his aggressive enforcement of the party line at CCTV via a "go grass roots" campaign in the second half of last year that focused on propaganda-style reporting.
The "go grass roots" campaign is believed to be the brainchild of Li Changchun, the party's propaganda supremo, and Liu, his perceived successor, who is director of the party's publicity department.
To demonstrate his commitment to the campaign, Jiao even did a television story himself last year on a bumper autumn harvest in a rural town in Wuchang, Heilongjiang . It featured in CCTV's prime-time newscast on September 8 last year.
The CCTV official said Jiao had been caught in the political crossfire over the fallout from a blaze at CCTV's new headquarters in Beijing in February 2009 that led to the removal of his predecessor, Zhao Huayong.
She said rumours were also rife inside CCTV about Jiao's possible involvement in corruption and sex scandals, including his ties to a well-known mainland folk singer.
Jiao, a graduate of Liaoning University, spent much of his early career at the Liaoning Daily, a provincial party mouthpiece, before becoming a deputy director of the provincial publicity department in 1997.
His breakthrough came in September 2008 when he became one of Liu's deputies at the central publicity department.
Some analysts said Jiao's fall could add more uncertainty to a once-a-decade leadership transfer at the party's 18th national congress early next month by compromising Li's bargaining power in horse-trading over the future leadership line-up and affecting Liu's bid for a place on the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.