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

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid