Xiao Yaqing, the minister who has overseen China’s drive to surpass the US in technology and manufacturing, has been placed under investigation in what may be the first surprise of the upcoming Communist Party congress . The probe was announced on Thursday by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the country’s top anti-corruption watchdog . Xiao was placed under investigation for “suspected violations of the law and discipline”, according to the CCDI announcement. Since 2020, Xiao has led the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology , which is at the centre of President Xi Jinping’s drive to reduce Beijing’s reliance on the developed world for technology. The ministry also oversees China’s vast internet infrastructure. Xi tells cadres to prepare for ‘critical moment’ for China In his position as minister, Xiao, 62, also oversees the licensing of new technologies, electric cars and the development of China’s 5G and 6G communication networks . It comes as the Communist Party is preparing for its twice-a-decade congress in autumn that is likely to mark the beginning of Xi’s third term as the party’s leader and is also expected to see a major leadership reshuffle. Xiao had been conspicuously absent from the lists of delegates who will attend the congress, and was one of just three ministers not included. The other two are Huang Runqiu, minister of the environment , who is not a member of the Communist Party, and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe , who is expected to be among the delegates from the People’s Liberation Army, which has yet to publish its list. At the congress, delegates will vote on the Central Committee, the party’s top policymaking body. The 200 or so members of the committee will then decide who will sit on the Politburo and its Standing Committee, the pinnacle of power in the Communist Party . Xiao is currently a full member of the Central Committee. He has served in a wide range of roles in the State Council, China’s cabinet. In 2009, he was promoted to deputy general secretary of the State Council. Xi allies lay out global risk outlook in countdown to party congress In 2016, he was again promoted to the head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the regulator overseeing the country’s largest state-owned industrial conglomerates. Xiao’s last public event was in early July, when he hosted a party-building meeting for his ministry. In June, Xiao co-hosted the first China-UK industrial cooperation dialogue with Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy.