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A former top leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) once in-charge of China’s internal security and member of the Party’s top decision-making body has been put under investigation.
Ending months of speculation, state media announced on Tuesday that Zhou Yongkang – not seen in public for months since rumours about his apparently quiet detention began – is being investigated for violation of discipline; in other words, Zhou has been charged with corruption.
Zhou’s – known as China’s security czar -- impending incarceration also gives President Xi Jinping’s well-publicised anti-corruption campaign a boost. In his campaign, Xi had talked about netting both the “tigers and flies” involved in corruption. Thousands of officials have been charged with corruption in the past several months.
Clearly, Zhou is among the “tigers”. Zhou, 71, is the first CPC politburo standing committee member — the top decision-making body of the Party in a set-up that is pyramidal in structure — to be investigated since the high-profile trial of the “Gang of Four” in the late 1970s, which included Mao Zedong’s wife.
“The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has decided to place Zhou Yongkang under investigation for suspected “serious disciplinary violation. The investigation will be conducted by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection,” Xinhua, China’s official news agency said in a brief statement that did not give any details about what he was being accused of.
“The decision was made in accordance with the CPC Constitution and the CPC discipline inspection authority’s case investigation regulation,” the statement added.
In December last year, a Taiwanese and a Hong Kong newspaper had independently claimed that Zhou had been arrested. No official confirmation was forthcoming till today. But rumours had flown fast about his detention especially after several senior CPC leaders and heads of enterprises were detained on corruptions charges in the last few months.
Zhou was also considered a patron of the once high-flying politician Bo Xilai, who was jailed for life in September for corruption and abuse of power; Bo’s wife was charged with the murder of a British businessman.