China replaces finance minister ahead of Communist Party congress

China appointed a new finance minister amid reports that the outgoing official was involved in a sex scandal and ahead of a Communist Party congress that will renew President Hu Jintao's mandate and set policy for the next five years. The chief of secret police and other top officials were also replaced Thursday as part of a political house cleaning. Top government portfolios usually change hands after the once-every-five-years party congress. This year's congress, to be held in October, will see Hu further put his stamp on the party's lineup and national priorities. Jin Renqing, the finance minister since 2003, was resigning "for personal reasons," a Cabinet spokeswoman said without elaborating, fueling speculation that Jin had run afoul of the party leadership. Rumors that Jin, 63, was being ousted as finance chief had circulated for days, raising concerns in global financial circles.