China investigates former official of Sichuan province over graft

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A former vice governor of China's populous southwestern province of Sichuan has been put under investigation for suspected corruption, the ruling Communist Party's graft-busting body said late on Saturday.

Li Chengyun is suspected of "severe disciplinary violations", the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a brief statement, using its normal euphemism for corruption. It gave no other details.

It was not possible to reach Li for comment and unclear if he has retained a lawyer.

Sichuan, famed for its spicy cuisine, has emerged as a focus of President Xi Jinping's crackdown on deep-seated corruption, since it was a power base for Zhou Yongkang, the country's once powerful domestic security boss.

Zhou was jailed for life last year for graft, and dozens of his associates have also been arrested, many in Sichuan, where he was Communist Party boss from 1999 to 2002.

Li has spent his entire working life in Sichuan, his official biography says, where he was party chief in the provincial city of Deyang city when Zhou was in charge of Sichuan.

He was dismissed as deputy governor in 2011, also accused of discipline breaches, but two months later appointed a vice director of a Sichuan policy planning panel, state-run media said on Sunday.

Li was best know for shedding tears at a news conference in Beijing in 2008 after a deadly earthquake which killed almost 70,000 people, media said.