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BEIJING (Reuters) - The former head of China's powerful internet regulator is under investigation for suspected corruption, the ruling Communist Party said on Tuesday, the latest senior official to be caught up in a sweeping campaign against graft.

In a brief statement, the party's corruption-busting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said that Lu Wei was suspected of serious discipline breaches, using a common euphemism for graft.

It provided no other details, and it was not possible to reach Lu or a representative for comment.

Lu worked his way up though China's official Xinhua news agency before becoming head of propaganda in the Chinese capital Beijing and then moving on to internet work in 2013.

He ran the internet regulator until June 2016, when another official took over. Lu subsequently became a deputy propaganda minister.

Lu was known for his strong defence of government controls over the Internet, rejecting criticism that China's internet was too censored, saying order was a means to online freedom.

Lu defended blocking some websites and censoring online posts, saying that if the government were being too restrictive, China's online market would not be developing so rapidly.

The government has blocked sites it deems could challenge Communist Party rule or threaten stability, including popular Western sites such as Facebook and Google's main search engine and Gmail service.

President Xi Jinping has waged war against deep-rooted corruption since taking office five years ago, jailing or meting out lesser punishments to hundreds of thousands of officials.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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