Xi Jinping’s total grip on power over China has brought down one of the most powerful men in the country’s modern history.
Zhou Yongkang, 73, is the former head of China’s domestic spy organisation. As of Thursday he has been sentenced to life in prison for accepting over $US20 million in bribes for himself and his family, leaking confidential documents, and abusing power.
The entire trial was conducted in secret. Friends say that’s the way Zhou would have wanted it.
This means the highest level official to fall from grace since the Communist Party of China (CPC) was created by Mao Zedong will be “deprived of his political rights for life and [have] his personal assets confiscated,” according to China’s state media organisation, Xinhua.
Before being a prisoner of the state, Zhou was had a place on the Poliburo’s Standing Committee. It’s a body of 5-9 (currently 7) people who lead the party. He was also, secretary of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs, deputy general manager of China National Petroleum Corp and more.
The end of Zhou is the ultimate sign that, since taking power in 2013, Xi has refashioned the CPC in his own image.
Yongkang was snared in Xi’s anti-corruption a drive — a drive some might call by a more violent name, a purge. And in this purge, you are either protected by Xi Jinping, or you are not.
After he took office Xi promised to go after party officials who dared take advantage of the state’s resources. He swore he would go after both fearsome “tigers” and tiny “flies,” and he’s kept that promise. Before now it was unthinkable that someone as powerful as Zhou would be persecuted — put under house arrest, have his assets confiscated, and then ultimately be sent to prison with no hope for appeal.
Here’s Zhou’s final statement, which he admits to everything (via Xinhua).
“The basic facts are clear. I plead guilty and repent my wrongdoing,” he said.
“Those involved, who bribed my family, were actually coming after the power I held, and I should take the main responsibility.
“I broke the law and Party rules incessantly, and the objective facts of my crimes have resulted in grave losses of the Party and the nation.
“The handling of my case in accordance with Party rules and the law reflects the authorities’ determination to govern the Party strictly and advance the rule of law,” Zhou added.
And the rule of law, as it stands, is all decided by Xi Jinping.