The deputy party secretary of Jilin province has been placed under investigation by the party's top graft-busting agency, Caixin.com  reported yesterday, citing various sources.
Zhu Yanfeng, 52, was allegedly implicated in problems related to the assets of Jilin-based First Automobile Works Group (FAW), the company of which he was formerly president, the report said.
It added that the issues occurred when the company was pursuing a public listing in 2011. It said the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) was probing the case. Zhu had been tipped to become Jilin governor before the 18th party congress. But, according to sources, some officials at FAW sent signed letters to the CCDI detailing his involvement in the alleged irregularities. As a result, Zhu's chances for advancement were hurt, the source added.
State censors apparently ordered the report removed from Caixin.com  within an hour or two of it being posted at about 6.30pm. A source close to Caixin Magazine said the Information Office, under the State Council, demanded the report be pulled soon after it was published.
And late yesterday, Jiao Yanzhao, a reporter with the Jilin-based Xinwenhua Post, wrote on his microblog that he had received an invitation to attend a news conference scheduled for today at which Zhu would make an official appearance. The 21st Century Business Herald made a similar post on its official microblog last night.
The Caixin report said that Zhu made his last public appearance on March 11, when he attended a ceremony to mark the beginning of the new school term at the provincial party school in Jilin.
Additionally, the report said that a scheduled overseas trip by Zhu, to an undisclosed location, had been suspended.
If the report is true, Zhu would be the second-highest official brought down by Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign.
Xi vowed in late January to crack down on both "tigers" and "flies" in his graft-busting campaign, in a signal that he would target both senior- and low-level officials.
Li Chuncheng, 56, former deputy party secretary of Sichuan province, became the first vice-provincial-level official to be removed from office in the campaign, in early December, just weeks after the close of the party's 18th national congress. He allegedly breached party discipline - a common euphemism for corruption.
However, even if the disciplinary commission is looking into alleged graft involving Zhu, as the report indicated, he could still be cleared of wrongdoing after the investigation.
He has not been subjected to shuanggui, an internal disciplinary measure outside the regular legal system under which party members are detained and interrogated.
Widely regarded as a rising political star, Zhu was among the youngest vice-provincial-level officials when he was named deputy governor of Jilin and a standing member of the party's provincial committee in December 2007, when he was 46 years of age.
Zhu, who worked for FAW for nearly a quarter of a century prior to his promotion to the Jilin provincial government, had been an alternate member of the party's central committee from 2002 until last year.