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BEIJING (Reuters) - The retired former head of a Chinese state-run news agency has been expelled from the ruling Communist Party for graft, an anti-corruption watchdog said on Monday.

Liu Beixian, editor-in-chief of the China News Service until retiring in February 2015, accepted bribes and expensive gifts while abusing his power to obtain financial gain for private enterprises, the watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said in a statement.

The commission said Liu, 62, also violated regulations by flying first class multiple times and he was uncooperative when being investigated.

"As a leading cadre, Liu Beixian lost his ideals and convictions and had serious thoughts of privilege," the commission said, adding that the evidence would be transferred to relevant judicial authorities for prosecution.

It was not possible to reach Liu or a legal or family representative for comment.

Liu was put under investigation in August for "serious disciplinary violations", a euphemism for graft.

The China News Service is run under the auspices of the cabinet’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, and is designed to serve as a news source for Chinese communities in places like Hong Kong and self-ruled Taiwan.

It is separate from Xinhua, China's official news agency.

Liu began working at the China News Service in 1983 and was its Hong Kong bureau chief from 1997 to 2000, according to his official resume. The former British territory was handed back to China in 1997.

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

(Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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