A deputy governor of Hunan apparently tried to kill himself at his home in Changsha last week after being questioned by inspectors from Beijing, making him the most senior official in the country to attempt suicide.
Sources said Zheng Maoqing, 60, had been admitted to hospital but was no longer in a critical condition, the Beijing-based Gong Yi Shi Bao, or Public Interest Times reported.
The newspaper said Mr Zheng had severed 'arteries and veins' while cutting himself about the body last Wednesday after being questioned in the morning by the Central Discipline and Inspection Committee.
A source confirmed the investigation was under way and told the South China Morning Post the case may implicate higher officials
But two people who answered phones at the Hunan provincial government offices said they did not know about the suicide attempt. One said: 'Don't look into the matter.'
The newspaper report said Mr Zheng had several wounds to his body and had lost a lot of blood. An unnamed senior official quoted by the paper said: 'It looked like he wanted to die for real.'
The Hunan government website shows that Mr Zheng was promoted to deputy governor in 1998 and was in charge of industry, traffic, production safety, labour and social welfare, environmental protection and domestic trade. Three days after the suicide attempt, Yang Zhida, director of the provincial highway administration, was given a life sentence for taking millions of yuan in bribes during Mr Zheng's time as deputy governor.
The report also linked Mr Zheng's administration to coal mine fatalities, quoting an unnamed Loudi official as saying he had approved the reopening of a mine in Shuangfeng county in 2003 where 39 people died three days after production resumed.
The most recent high-ranking official to kill himself was Wang Wei, deputy mayor of Jilin City, and the provincial environmental chief of Jilin, who was found hanged at home last month.
Wang had been in charge of rescue efforts after a petrochemical plant explosion caused one of the country's worst incidents of river pollution.