April 1, 2015 / 1:33 AM / 3 years ago

China investigates diplomat suspected of taking bribes

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities are investigating a diplomat working at the Chinese embassy in Paris for suspected bribe-taking, the state news agency, Xinhua, has said.

Xinhua identified the diplomat in a report late on Tuesday as Wu Xilin, the minister counselor for commercial affairs at the embassy in France. It gave no other details.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had no information about the case.

President Xi Jinping has cracked down on corruption since assuming office two years ago. He has warned, as have others before him, that the problem is so bad it could affect the Communist Party’s ability to maintain power.

While several senior heads have rolled, the diplomatic corps had until recently escaped much censure.

In January, the foreign ministry said senior diplomat Zhang Kunsheng had been sacked and put under investigation for suspected corruption. Zhang was an assistant foreign minister.

The ministry was implicated in another scandal last year, when China’s ambassador to Iceland vanished amid reports in overseas Chinese media that he had been arrested for passing on secrets to Japan.

The government has yet to account for what happened to him.

The ministry is one of the only government departments that will regularly answer questions from foreign reporters and so has a high profile, but it has little power or influence compared with other ministries.

In a separate case, Zhong Shijian, deputy head of the provincial anti-graft authority in the southern province of Guangdong, is himself under investigation for “serious violations of discipline and the law”, Xinhua said on Wednesday.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard, additional reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Paul Tait and Clarence Fernandez

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