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China Telecom chairman Chang probed for alleged violations

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[BEIJING] China's top anti-graft authority announced an investigation into the chairman of China Telecom Corp, the latest high-ranking official to be taken down in President Xi Jinping's campaign to weed out corruption in the Communist Party.

Chang Xiaobing is under probe for suspected severe discipline violations, according to a statement from Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Sunday. Chang has only been chairman and chief executive officer of China Telecom, the country's third-largest wireless carrier, since September, when he moved over from China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd as part of a leadership reshuffle that coincided with government plans for sweeping reforms to a US$16 trillion government-owned sector.

President Xi's campaign has pursued graft in state-owned enterprises along with the finance industry following a US$5 trillion stocks rout earlier this year. In October, the former chairman of China's biggest oil producer was sentenced to 16 years in prison for taking bribes and abuse of power.

Chang had been chairman of China Unicom, the nation's second-largest wireless carrier, for 11 years, according to an annual report.  China Telecom executives on the evening of Dec. 26 received notice that an annual meeting to be held in Beijing on Dec. 28 had been postponed, Caijing reported, citing several company executives it didn't identify. Calls to Chang's mobile phone weren't answered as it was switched off, the report said.

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China Telecom's investor relations staff in Hong Kong said they could not immediately comment.