BEIJING -- A senior Chinese Communist Party official in Chongqing died last week in a possible suicide that some reports link to a rumored corruption probe.
Chongqing deputy party secretary Ren Xuefeng died Thursday, according to local media. The 54-year-old was the city's No. 3 party official, behind Secretary Chen Min'er -- a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping -- and Deputy Secretary and Mayor Tang Liangzhi.
Ren was an alternate member of the party's Central Committee. He missed the committee's fourth plenary meeting last week, Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao Daily reported.
Ren initially worked his way up the ranks in Tianjin and served as party secretary for Guangzhou before moving to the Chongqing post last year. He is said to have been helped along in his career by Zhang Gaoli, who from 2012 to 2017 served on the Politburo Standing Committee, China's top decision-making body, and was reportedly close to former President Jiang Zemin.
Some speculate that Ren was facing corruption allegations related to his time in Guangdong Province.
Chongqing has been rocked by multiple high-profile scandals over the past decade. Former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, once seen as a rival to Xi, was expelled from the party in 2012. Sun Zhengcai, who took over the position later that year and was considered a potential successor to Xi, was caught up in the president's anti-graft drive and ousted in 2017.