With an estimated net worth of $14 Billion, Zhou Yongkang, the man formerly in charge of China's vast security apparatus, was one of the nine most senior politicians in China until 2012. But now, as The BBC reports, state media have announced he is being investigated for "serious disciplinary violation", a term usually used to refer to corruption. The news ended months of speculation about his fate as numerous people in his sphere of influence are either under investigation or have been sentenced to death. This move confirms Xi Jinping's determination to root out corruption but could also be seen, given Zhou's influence, as an effort to eliminate a center of power in China's factional political system.
- *CHINA STARTS PROBE OF EX-SECURITY CHIEF ZHOU YONGKANG: XINHUA
As Bloomberg reports,
Today’s move represents a tightening grip on power by China’s President Xi Jinping, following his appointment as military chief and head of national security and economic-reform panels. It may also represent an effort to eliminate a center of power in China’s factional political system, according to Dali Yang, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago.
“Zhou was a very influential figure who built up a powerful empire, and Xi wants to ensure that the power of the center should not be under threat,” Yang said by phone before the announcement. “By cracking down on corruption and abuse of power, Xi plays to the base in the party.”
Investigating Zhou, the nation’s former security chief, sends the signal that even the highest political elite aren’t immune from a campaign to root out the corruption that Xi says threatens the party’s hold on power. Party leaders have promised to target both “tigers and flies” in the power hierarchy.
Zhou Yongkang was one of the nine most senior politicians in China until 2012, but has now fallen from grace.
State media have announced he is being investigated for "serious disciplinary violation", a term usually used to refer to corruption. The news ended months of speculation about his fate.
Many of his aides and close associates have already been sacked or investigated for allegedly breaching party discipline and other misdemeanours in recent months.
Zhou Yongkang also enjoyed a very close working relationship with another very senior fallen politician Bo Xilai, who is now in jail.
When Mr Bo was the party boss of Chongqing and launched the "singing red songs and hard crackdown on criminals" campaign to boost his credentials, Mr Zhou showed up in the city in 2010 to sing its leader's praises.
Zhou Yongkang married twice, and one of his sons with his first wife is Zhou Bin, born in 1972 and a high-profile oil and gas executive. According to Hong Kong press, Zhou Bin was arrested in December 2013 on corruption charges.
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Of course, Xi needs some promise to hold on to as he folded on economic reform by unleashing QE.