A U.S. diplomatic cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks says former Chinese Finance Minster Jin Renqing was fired in 2007 for having a sexual relationship with a suspected Taiwanese spy.
The reported affair occurred during the administration of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian, when tensions between Taiwan and China were high because of Beijing's anger over Chen's pro-independence policies. Since then relations have improved substantially, guided by Chen's China-friendly successor, Ma Ying-jeou.
When Jin left office, it was reported that he resigned for personal reasons.
The recently released cable from the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai was classified secret and dated Sept. 20, 2007. It described the unidentified woman as a "promiscuous socialite" and said Chinese investigators believed she was a Taiwanese spy.
Taiwan's intelligence agency declined to comment Monday on the story. Calls to the main office of China's Finance Ministry in Beijing were not answered.
The cable said she conducted simultaneous affairs with several other prominent Chinese figures, including then Sinopec Group Chairman Chen Tonghai and then Sichuan provincial Communist Party Secretary Du Qinglin.
Chen was removed from office for corruption. Du is now head of the United Front Work Department, a body under the Communist Party's Central Committee, and vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Calls to both offices rang unanswered Monday.
The cable said the woman was introduced to Jin, Chen and Du as "someone working with a Chinese military intelligence department." It cited one of her Chinese male acquaintances as describing her as "anything but pulchritudinous."
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949. Beijing continues to claim Taiwan as its own.
Despite the improved ties between the sides, espionage remains a constant in their relationship. Last month, a Taiwanese major general was indicted on charges of selling military secrets to Beijing, in what is widely believed to be one of the most serious breaches of military secrecy in Taiwan's history.
Associated Press writer Scott McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.