A senior foreign diplomat for China, Zhang Kunsheng, has been removed from his position. It comes amid China's highly-publicized crackdown on corruption.
China's Foreign Ministry issued a two-sentence statement on Friday announcing that Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng (pictured right) had been removed from his post.
Zhang, one of four officials with the title, was "suspected of violating discipline," a phrase which is commonly used as a euphemism for corruption. Although an investigation had been launched, it was not clear who was conducting it or what exactly Zhang was alleged to have done. His responsibilities have been temporarily taken over by ministry spokesman Qin Gang.
As China's four assistant foreign ministers rank below the minister and six vice ministers, Zhang, who was in charge of the protocol department, has become the highest-ranking diplomat to be caught up in the country's highly-publicized campaign to stamp out corruption.
Shortly after he took office two years ago, China's President Xi Jinping launched a campaign against corruption, in which he vowed that both low-level "flies" and high-ranking "tigers" would be caught. China's corruption problem was said to be so bad that it could affect the ability of the Communist Party to maintain power. The campaign has netted several powerful figures, including Zhou Yongkang who was formerly one of the nine most senior politicians in China.
China's foreign ministry was the subject of another scandal last year, in which the country's ambassador to Iceland, Ma Jisheng, vanished amid reports that he had allegedly spied for Japan. China's government has yet to say what happened to him.
se/ksb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)