One of China's top spymasters has reportedly been retained after apparently running afoul of President Xi Jinping's aggressive anti-corruption drive.
Beijing confirmed that Ma Jian, vice-minister in the Ministry of State Security, is being investigated on suspicion of "serious violations" of the law, according to the BBC, which says: "No further details were given in the one-line statement on the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection's website, but the wording used typically applies to a corruption probe."
The South China Morning Post quotes sources with direct knowledge of the situation as saying that Ma has been detained, possibly over accusations of insider trading. If so, he is the highest-ranking individual to date to be swept up in the anti-corruption campaign.
The SCMP reports:
"It is not clear what triggered the probes, but it is believed to be linked to a high-profile anti-graft investigation into activities at the top of Founder Group, a Peking University-owned technology conglomerate.
"Ma, the executive deputy minister of the omnipotent Ministry of State Security and who sources say was in charge of the mainland's massive counter-espionage operations, is believed to be close to Founder chief executive Li You who allegedly financed hugely profitable securities trades carried out by one of Ma's relatives."
The Financial Times says Ma "has been in charge of counter-intelligence at the all-powerful spy agency for nearly a decade and was credited with at least two recent high-profile arrests of alleged foreign spies in high positions within the MSS."
Ma's detention is part of the largest anti-corruption campaign since the Cultural Revolution of the 60s and 70s.