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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs