SHENZHEN , China, June 12 (UPI) -- The mayor of Shenzhen, China's economic showpiece town, has been fired amid an investigation into official corruption, officials said.
Thursday's dismissal of Mayor Xu Zongheng, 54, may lead to a criminal probe against him, China Daily reported. Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong, is regarded as pivotal to reforms in China.
The report quoted other media alleging possible involvement of more officials, celebrities and an Olympic gymnast with Xu. The gymnast, however, denied any such involvement with the mayor, the report said.
The allegations involved bribes for government positions or to win bids in construction projects.
The report quoted Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper saying Shenzhen Vice Mayor Yan Xiaopei also was being questioned by the government's discipline commission.
The town's executive Vice Mayor Xu Qin has temporarily taken over the responsibilities of Xu, who was detained this week, although no reason was given for the detention.
The China Daily said Xu's investigation may have stemmed from his growing unpopularity among political rivals.
Xu, described as a hard-liner, was promoted by the party to Shenzhen mayor in 2005. His refusal to place a ceiling on the local housing market raised questions as to whether he was serving the interests of real estate developers or the public, the report said.