China’s Communist Party has expelled former security tsar Zhou Yongkang, the highest ranking politician to be purged from the party since the days of Mao. The news was released at midnight, Chinese time.
He will now be arrested by China’s top prosecutors, The Supreme People’s Procuratorate, according to the BBC.
What we’re witnessing is beyond a takedown — it’s like getting banished. It’s like getting erased.
Zhou is what is known in China as a tiger — an official of the highest rank. He was also a member of the Politburo Stand Committee, the most powerful lawmaking body in China. Before now, members were considered untouchable.
But President Xi Jinping swore that even “tigers” could be included in his corruption drive along with lowly “flies.” Zhou was placed under house arrest in 2012 just before his retirement, but at that point no one knew how far Xi’s regime would go. What we do know is that the government seized over $US14 billion in assets from Zhou’s friends and associates.
As for Zhou’s crimes, we still don’t know what he did when and with whom. All we have to go on is a laundry list of transgressions released by China’s state media apparatus, Xinhua News.
The investigation, Zhou Yongkang, a serious violation of the Party’s political discipline, organizational discipline, confidential discipline; use of his office for people to seek illegal interests, accepting huge bribes directly or through family members; abuse help relatives, mistresses, friends, business activities to obtain huge profits, cause significant losses of state assets; disclosure of the party and state secrets; serious violations of the provisions of self-discipline, personal belongings and a large number of relatives of accepting other people; and a number of female adultery and the right colour, the colour of money transaction. Zhou Yongkang, the survey also found other suspected criminal clues. Zhou Yongkang has done a complete departure from the party’s nature and purpose of a serious breach of party discipline, which greatly damaged the party’s image, causing heavy losses to the party and the people’s cause, the impact is extremely bad.
Of course, it’s hard to say whether Zhou, who was an oil executive before he took over China’s internal security agency, was any more corrupt than any of the tigers still in power. It’s also hard to say whether this corruption drive is really just Xi’s way of consolidating power.
It’s probably both.
“There is little doubt these people were engaged in remarkable amounts of corruption, and there are all sorts of unproven rumours about plots and deals among this group in the runup up to the 2012 18th Party Congress,” Bill Bishop, editor of the China newsletter Sinocism, told Business Insider this summer. “But taking down this network has also allowed Xi to gain control over the security services, and much faster than most observers expected.”
By July of this year the government had probed 25,000 people in this drive. You can follow along on social media, even. Every few hours The People’s Daily will tweet out the pictures of a government official (usually a low-level “fly”) who has been taken into custody, or is suspected of some kind of violation.
It looks like this:
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