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Two leaders of China’s Civil Affairs Ministry reported to be under investigation

Two top officials who oversaw China’s civil affairs are being investigated by the party on suspicion of severe violations of Communist Party discipline, sources say.

“Both Li Liguo and Dou Yupei were recently taken away by party disciplinary and supervisory personnel,” a source close to the Civil Affairs Ministry quoted an internal briefing for staff as saying a couple of days ago.

It would be a rare case in China for both the head and his or her deputy of a provincial-level body to be removed almost at the same time, if what the source says is true.

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As a full member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, Civil Affairs Minister Li should have attended the Communist Party’s sixth plenary session which ended on Thursday last week.

Widespread speculation suggested the 63-year-old might have got into troubles after he was not seen in CCTV news footage of the closing ceremony of the plenum.

Some said Li might have been implicated in the political turmoil over the massive election rigging of top legislators in the northeastern province of Liaoning, which brought down dozens of top-tier members of the National People’s Congress and deputies to provincial-level legislatures earlier this year.

Li spent more than two decades in the rust-belt province, before he became secretary general of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1993. He was named head of the civil affairs ministry in 2010, after leaving Tibet to become deputy head of the ministry in 2003.

Others suggested that Li, along with his deputy Dou, was held responsible for and sacked over a massive protest involving hundreds of veterans who surrounded the Defence Ministry headquarters at the heart of Beijing early last month.

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Part of the duties for the Civil Affairs Ministry is arranging jobs for tens of thousands of veterans across the country.

Dou has worked in the Civil Affairs Ministry for more than 34 years. He was promoted to a vice-minister in late 2005 when he was 48.

The 59-year-old also held another position concurrently as a deputy head of the Red Cross Society of China since 2009. There is speculation Dou might have been involved in corruption related to the scandal-plagued charity.