News / Asia

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

FILE - China's then Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang attends the opening ceremony of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
FILE - China's then Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang attends the opening ceremony of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
William Ide

China has announced it is investigating a man who used to be one of the country's most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang.  The investigation is likely to boost already growing public support for Chinese President Xi Jinping's widening anti-corruption drive.  

A brief announcement of the decision came late Tuesday from China's Xinhua news agency.  In its report, Xinhua said the party's top investigating body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, had begun an investigation into Zhou Yongkang's suspected "serious disciplinary" violations.
 
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology political scientist David Zweig says the decision to go after Zhou is perhaps the biggest investigation since the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution.
 
"This is a big deal and many, many people would worry that if you can go after people, you know members of the politburo standing committee after they stepped down, than many many [other] people would be vulnerable," Zweig said.

For months, China has been anticipating the announcement of an investigation into Zhou Yongkang.
 
Since late last year there have been numerous unconfirmed reports in foreign media that Zhou was the focus of a corruption probe.  But when an official announcement did not come in March when the Communist Party held top-level meetings in Beijing, some began to question Chinese President Xi Jinping's commitment to stamping out corruption.
 
The Communist Party says it is in a life or death struggle against corruption - a problem that not only threatens the party and state, but also prospects for much needed reform.

Zweig says that while Xi most likely needed to get a lot of people to agree with the decision to go forward with the investigation, it is easy to understand why it is necessary.  Zhou is a classic example of someone who had too much power, he says.
 
"He had so much political and legal power being the head of the legal affairs leadership group of the Communist Party, he just was an enormous powerful position to be able to do what he wanted, when you got that kind of power over police courts, who gets shot, who gets executed that is just an enormous amount of power in a totally un-transparent system," he said.

Although the announcement of the party's investigation into Zhou marks a big step forward, it is not necessarily a guarantee that he could face criminal charges, says Hong Kong Baptist University political scientist Jean-Pierre Cabestan.

"In China it is up to the party whether a case should be transferred to the judiciary or should be dealt with within the party apparatus," Cabestan explained. "  If there are serious crimes suspected to having been committed by Zhou Yongkang, which is likely, the case will probably be transferred to the judiciary, if not this will be dealt with within the party."

Since taking over as China's leader, President Xi has carried out a highly publicized crackdown on government corruption.  Zhou is a close ally of former rising political star Bo Xilai, who was sentenced to life in jail last year.

The anti-corruption drive has won Mr. Xi much praise, but some are also concerned it is just political infighting.

"I think there is a lot of cynicism around, so a lot of Chinese know it very well, it is also a political case and it is not going to accelerate reform or let alone political change in China," Cabestan said. "What they see is that Xi Jinping is getting more and more powerful and is centralizing power in his own hands, for the better or maybe for the worse."
 
Zhou rose up within China's ranks serving in several key posts that contributed to his power and influence and that are also likely to be key focuses of the corruption investigation.  He previously served as the head of the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation and as a Sichuan provincial party secretary.  Sichuan province and CNPC have already been shaken by corruption investigations, many into individuals closely linked to Zhou.

While Zhou served as China's security chief, overseeing domestic intelligence, paramilitary police, judges and prosecutors, the country's domestic security budget began outpacing spending for national defense. 

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
August 01, 2014 1:35 AM
When China conducts this kind of investigations, they tend to ignore procedural justice and human rights protection even for the accused.


by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
July 29, 2014 10:44 PM
The Chinese perceive this scenario is one of power struggle between powerful factions. They don't consider that the rule of law prevails. Their view is very cnical and do not promote the citizens' respect of the law.

In Response

by: zhou from: china
July 30, 2014 1:29 AM
you said exactly what I would like to say. it is not the victory of rule of law,which only demonstrates XI has cemented his power within the party. Well said.


by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
July 29, 2014 6:09 PM
Unless there are fundamental changes to the system of China, this kind of anti-corrpution measures are not going to eradicte corruption. The Chinese know it too well through history.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid