China investigates provincial political adviser

BEIJING (AP) - China's ruling Communist Party is investigating a top political adviser in a southwestern province believed to be linked to a former security czar who until recently was one of the country's most powerful leaders.

The party's internal disciplinary agency said on its website that Li Chongxi, head of an advisory body to Sichuan province's rubberstamp legislature, was under investigation for serious disciplinary violations.

The announcement on Sunday came amid reports in overseas Chinese and some foreign media of an investigation into former security chief Zhou Yongkang, who was Communist Party chief of Sichuan for several years on his way to the apex of political power, the Politburo Standing Committee.

Party chief Xi Jinping has made fighting widespread graft a key campaign of his leadership so far, with promises to target both junior and high-level officials.

Li is the third Sichuan official to come under a party disciplinary probe, which has also seen investigations into businesspeople, senior executives in the oil sector, and most recently, a vice minister of public security. All were believed to have links to Zhou.

Zhou oversaw China's massive state security apparatus and was also said to maintain influence over the state-controlled oil sector in which he spent the early part of his career. He was believed to have maintained strong ties to associates in Sichuan throughout his career.

During part of the time that Zhou was Sichuan party boss, Li was general secretary of the provincial party committee and head of its general office from 2000 to 2002, positions that would have made him Zhou's close aide.

Li rose quickly through the ranks, holding titles that included deputy provincial party chief _ while being head of its provincial anti-graft commission. He later took on senior positions in the legislature and its advisory body.

The Beijing News, a prominent Chinese newspaper, cited sources as saying the investigation into Li could be related to irregularities in mergers and acquisitions that took place under his supervision in the mining sector.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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