(Bloomberg) -- President Xi Jinping’s government looks set to oust its third minister since its new cabinet was introduced last year, a pace of removals not seen since the Chinese leader first came to power over a decade ago.

Agriculture Minister Tang Renjian is under investigation for suspected violations of discipline and law, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, China’s anti-corruption watchdog, said on Saturday. The report didn’t provide details on the specific violations the 61-year-old is suspected of committing. 

The latest probe shows the continued intensity of Xi’s signature campaign, which he has leveraged to discipline the party and purge political rivals since taking office in 2012. Tang is expected to lose his title after the disciplinary action, joining other cabinet officials that have been ousted from the State Council including former Foreign Minister Qin Gang and ex-Defense Minister Li Shangfu. The body is made up of 26 ministerial-level departments. 

Both Qin and Li held the title of State Councilor, a higher rank than ministers. Although Xi has taken down more powerful officials for corruption, such as former security tsar Zhou Yongkang and former politburo member Sun Zhengcai, the pace of shakeup of a new cabinet is unprecedented. The latest lineup was approved in March 2023. 

China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong has been ramping up his anti-corruption campaign. This year, 25 senior officials have been investigated, on track to surpass last year’s record of 45 under Xi, according to a tally of probes announced by CCDI. 

It is uncommon for Beijing to publicly open a probe into an incumbent minister. Tang is the first minister in office to be formally investigated by CCDI after Xiao Yaqing, former minister of industry and information technology, in 2022. Qin and Li were dismissed from the government last year without explanation. 

Tang’s removal came as a surprise as he was last seen in public just three days before the probe was announced, when he called for more talent to revitalize the countryside, another priority of Xi. 

He started his political career in the agriculture ministry and worked in different roles in the sector for about two decades before stints at provincial governments including Guangxi autonomous region and Gansu province.

China’s anti-graft watchdog recently announced a probe into Gansu native Ren Jianxin, the former chairman of state-owned giant China National Chemical Corp, or ChemChina, for suspected violations of discipline and law. Ren was the official behind ChemChina’s $43 billion bid for Swiss agrochemical giant Syngenta Group. 

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