China sacks senior energy official amid graft crackdown

BEIJING (REUTERS) - The deputy director of China's National Energy Association (NEA), who was under investigation for taking bribes, has been sacked as a crackdown on the power body widens, state media reported on Wednesday.

Xu Yongsheng was placed under investigation last week, one of a series of probes into the energy sector. The official Xinhua news agency reported on its microblog account on Wednesday that Xu had been removed from office.

Three other officials, including Wang Jun, head of the NEA's renewable energy department, Hao Weiping, director of the nuclear power department, and Wei Pengyuan, deputy director of the coal department, are under investigation, Xinhua has said.

President Xi Jinping has targeted the energy sector as part of a wider campaign to weed out pervasive graft that began when he came into office last year. However, the anti-corruption drive has also enabled Mr Xi to weed out powerful opponents and go after high-ranking officials.

The ruling Communist Party's anti-graft watchdog said earlier this month it was conducting inspections at Power Construction Corp and state-controlled power equipment maker China XD Group.

In March, the chairman and the president of Three Gorges Corp., the company that built the US$59-billion project for the world's biggest hydro-power scheme, stepped down. They have not been accused of any wrongdoing.