China Puts Senior Spy Official Under Investigation for Graft

China announced a formal investigation into a top spy chief for alleged corruption, confirmation of the highest-ranking intelligence officer nabbed in President Xi Jinping’s battle against graft.

Ma Jian, deputy minister of the Ministry of State Security, is being probed for suspected “serious law and discipline violations,” the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Friday in a brief statement on its website.

Xi vowed to maintain “high pressure” and “zero tolerance” in the battle against graft in a Jan. 13 speech at a plenary session of the commission, the party’s top disciplinary agency. His anti-graft campaign has already snared 100,000 officials of various levels.

“The probe of a senior security official means the ministry is deeply troubled,” said Wang Yukai, a governance professor at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Governance. “The ministry is so important that the ministers should be politically more reliable than others. Ma’s case might be related to the investigation of Zhou Yongkang.”

Zhou, a former member of the party’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee who once oversaw China’s vast security network, was expelled from the party last month, with prosecutors examining allegations of corruption and leaking state secrets. He was placed under investigation in July.

The South China Morning Post reported the probe of Ma on Jan. 12, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter. Ma had close ties to Ling Jihua, the former top aide of retired president Hu Jintao who is also under investigation, the paper reported.