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Zhou Yongkang: oil man whose well of power finally ran dry                  

 

AFP, 07/29/14

 

Embattled former top Communist Zhou Yongkang rose through China's state oil industry to become the country's internal security chief -- and amassed so much power, according to analysts, that he brought about his own downfall.

The investigation into him announced Tuesday comes on the back of President Xi Jinping's much-publicised anti-corruption drive, but experts say it is driven more by internal politics within the factionalised ruling party.

Zhou, 71, was born in the eastern industrial city of Wuxi in 1942, the son of a senior Communist defence procurement bureaucrat.

He got his start in the 1970s as a technician for the Liaohe Oil Exploration Bureau in the northeastern province of Liaoning, home to China's third-largest oil field.

By 1996, he had worked his way up to head giant state-owned oil producer China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and went on to become the Communist Party chief in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

There he established a reputation as a hardliner, including against the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

He is a central figure in what some analysts have termed the "oil faction" within the Communist Party, a network of influential politicians who have ties with China's powerful and lucrative petroleum industry -- and is sometimes described as "China's Dick Cheney".

- Too powerful -

In 2002 he ascended to the upper echelons of Chinese leadership, with a slot in the ruling party's 25-member Politburo and the role of minister of public security.

Five years later he stepped up to the elite Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), China's most powerful body, and head of the party's Central Politics and Law Commission (CPLC), responsible for all of China's internal security, including its police, courts, jails and domestic surveillance.

His tenure was marked by the brutal use of force in response to civic unrest, as he oversaw the quelling of riots in Tibet in 2008 and in the restive far-western region of Xinjiang -- the homeland of China's mainly Muslim Uighur minority -- in 2009.

According to a Chinese finance ministry report, in 2013 the official budget overseen by the CPLC exceeded the national defence budget for the fourth year in a row, with a staggering 769 billion yuan (now $124 billion) spent on domestic security compared with 760 billion yuan (now $123 billion) in military expenditure.

"Maintenance of stability is something very, very vague, and there's a lot of room for corruption," said Joseph Cheng, a professor of political science at the City University of Hong Kong.

"And since there's a lot of room for corruption -- a lot of leeway for spending -- you have a lot of resources to build up your network of ties. That is why he has become so powerful."

That build-up of power and resources -- and a network of proteges and allies eager to establish themselves at the top of the party -- was part of what triggered Zhou's political demise, Cheng added.

"He's been in charge of a growing and expanding public security machinery, and he is seen to be too powerful to be comfortable to the leadership, especially Xi Jinping," he said.

- 'Conspiratorial cabal' -

Zhou retired in 2012 as part of a once-a-decade leadership handover, but senior Chinese politicians normally remain significant players even after officially stepping down.

His position as a former PSC member makes him the highest-level official ensnared in the anti-corruption campaign Xi launched when he took over as party leader, promising to target all levels from high-ranking "tigers" to low-level "flies".

Yet according to experts Zhou's fate was probably sealed by his alliance with Bo Xilai, the openly ambitious, charismatic Communist Party star who last year was sentenced to life in prison for graft.

"In the eyes of Xi Jinping and other leaders, Zhou Yongkang's crime is supporting Bo Xilai," said Willy Lam, a politics specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"That is widespread innuendo, and I think it's true -- Bo Xilai had formed a kind of anti-party, conspiratorial cabal, a faction within the power establishment, and Zhou Yongkang was one of the closest comrades of Bo Xilai," Lam added. "So, that was what did him in."

Some reports in overseas Chinese media suggest that Zhou's downfall may be part of a broader effort by the Xi leadership to purge allies of former president Jiang Zemin, who retains influence over a faction of the Party.

At least 13 officials connected to Zhou are also under investigation by Chinese authorities, according to announcements in official Chinese media.

They include five current and former top officials in Sichuan; four CNPC officials, including its head and vice president; a vice minister of public security; and three others believed to be right-hand men of Zhou.

Some overseas reports say more than 20 Zhou proteges are currently in detention.

But the first sign the top leadership believed Zhou had become too powerful for their own good came long before rumours of an investigation began swirling.

When Zhou stepped down the PSC was cut back from nine members to seven -- with no slot for the country's security chief any more.

http://www.breitbart.com/system/wire/71343ce5-1daf-4526-9ad5-cca370380718



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One ‘Big Tiger’ Down, Several More to Follow

 

The investigation of Zhou Yongkang is not the end of the 'anti-corruption' campaign

 

Cheng Jing, Epoch Times (大紀元), 08/13/14

 

HONG KONG -- According to an unwritten rule of the Chinese Communist Party, former security czar and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang might have expected to have been safe from an “anti-corruption” investigation. But he has been targeted, and now as many as 5 more Standing Committee members are believed to be on the hot seat.

 

After months of rumors that Zhou was already under house arrest, a formal investigation for suspected “serious disciplinary violations” was announced on July 29, making him the biggest “tiger” -- top-ranking Party official -- of all the officials investigated in Party head Xi Jinping’s campaign.

 

Afterwards, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece People.com.cn commented that taking down this big tiger is not the end. The article was removed several hours after it was published, but observers have taken its publication as a significant signal from the Party that an even greater action is to come. There are more and bigger tigers behind Zhou.

 

The tradition within the Party has been that present or former members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo -- the small group of men who sit atop the Party hierarchy -- receive a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card and cannot be arrested.

 

Yet there are five more retired Standing Committee members who may be in line for purging. One of them -- Zeng Qinghong -- is already rumored to be under arrest.

 

Zhou was raised quickly up through the ranks by former Party head Jiang Zemin and has been a bulwark of his faction. His fall follows that of several others top members of Jiang’s faction, including former Politburo member Bo Xilai, oil executive Jiang Jiemin, and the former deputy commander of China’s armed forces, Xu Caihou.

 

This rolling series of purges has stripped supporters, and the power they held, away from Jiang Zemin. According to Party insiders, Jiang and his faction have opposed Xi Jinping in various ways, including assassination attempts.

 

The Jiang faction has fought to regain power because they fear being held accountable for the crimes committed during the 15-year-long persecution of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong, the Party insiders say. Jiang himself is now said to fear prosecution.

 

Recent media reports suggest Jiang has reason for concern. The Financial Times has reported that Xi Jinping has begun an anti-corruption investigation in Shanghai, where Jiang’s faction is based. The Central News Agency in Taiwan reported that the anti-corruption campaign is moving towards Jiang Zemin’s base camp.

 

Apple Daily in Hong Kong has reported that Zeng Qinghong’s family is under investigation for involvement in Zhou’s case. Reports from various quarters are pointing directly at Zhou’s ally Zeng Qinghong, and Zhou and Zeng’s real boss Jiang Zemin.

 

Among the former Standing Committee members, former Party head Hu Jintao and former premier Wen Jiabao are Xi’s allies. Jiang’s confidants are Zhou Yongkang, Zeng Qinghong, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Luo Gan, and Wu Bangguo, all of whom have either been investigated or are likely to be investigated in Xi’s campaign.

 

Zeng Qinghong

 

Epoch Times reported on July 12 that former Standing Committee vice-chair Zeng, the second most important figure in the Jiang faction, had been arrested and was under secret investigation.

 

A former head of the petroleum monopoly in China and one of the head’s of the regime’s intelligence services, Zeng has been Jiang’s top adviser and has played an important role in struggles between Jiang and his successor Hu Jintao and between Jiang and Xi Jinping.

Zeng gave advice to Jiang about the persecution and spared no efforts in helping carry it out, Party insiders say.

 

Scandals centered on Zeng have recently been publicized, increasing speculation that the ground is being prepared for a formal announcement that Zeng has been investigated.

 

Jia Qinglin

 

On July 11, it was widely rumored on online media that Jia had been detained.

 

Jia’s biggest scandal was his involvement in China’s largest smuggling case. However, because Jia helped Jiang persecute Falun Gong, Jia avoided all fallout from the case.

 

Jia became a member of the Standing Committee in 1997. During his tenure as secretary of the Party’s Beijing Municipal Committee from 1999 to 2002, Jia was directly involved in the persecution of Falun Gong.

 

The Xiamen Yuanhua case was brought in 2000. More than 600 Yuanhua officers were investigated when the Yuanhua syndicate’s activities reached epic proportions with a total worth of roughly 53 billion yuan (US $6.4 billion).

 

Jia intended to resign, but Jiang refused to allow it and instead promoted him to become the chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Jiang said he would be finished if Jia stepped down. Jiang made use of Jia, and Jia protected Jiang.

 

Li Changchun

 

After Li Changchun served as number two man in the CCP in Henan Province from 1990-1992, Jiang began promoting him up through the ranks, after Li flattered him and gained his trust.

 

Jiang promoted Li to the Standing Committee in 2002, placing him in charge of propaganda and ideology. In that position, Li directed a propaganda campaign to slander Falun Gong and seek to discredit it before the Chinese people. Li’s propaganda and Zhou Yongkang’s “stability maintenance” system of repression worked closely together to implement the persecution.

 

During his peak, Li was the fifth most powerful figure in the Party. Since 2012, however, scandals involving the Li family’s scandals have been publicized, with news about his children’s corrupt wealth appearing continuously in media headlines.

 

Luo Gan

 

On July 21 China’s largest search engine, Baidu, lifted its censorship on the words “Luo Gan persecution.” This made public the crimes of Luo Gan and the “610 Office,” Jiang’s extralegal organization created for the specific purpose of persecuting Falun Gong.

 

Luo is yet another high-ranking official in Jiang’s faction directly involved in planning and implementing the persecution. Following Jiang Zemin’s orders, in 2000 Luo organized a nationwide persecution of Falun Gong.

 

According to Party insiders, Luo Gan was also involved in staging the January 23, 2001 “self-immolations,” which were used to discredit Falun Gong.

 

There were never more than seven Standing Committee members at the same time until the Party’s 16th National Congress in 2002. Facing retirement, Jiang expanded the membership of the Standing Committee to 9, packing it with his loyalists in order to assure his continued influence. Luo was meant to retire from his post as head of China’s domestic security apparatus, but Jiang instead pushed him into the Standing Committee.

 

Luo Gan has been sued in more than 30 countries around the world for his harsh persecution of Falun Gong.

 

Wu Bangguo

 

Wu was the number two man in the Shanghai CCP when Jiang headed it. He retired as chair of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in 2013.

 

Like others close to Jiang, he was moved quickly into positions of power. He became head of the Shanghai CCP and then a member of the Politburo Standing Committee in 2002.

 

Wu’s family is reported to have amassed hundreds of billions of yuan with Jiang’s assistance. In 2012, after the first move was taken against Jiang’s faction -- the purge of Bo Xilai -- Chinese-language media began publishing information about scandals involving Wu’s family.

 

Washington-based China expert Shi Zangshan, said: “At this sensitive moment, Wu Bangguo’s negative reports appeared. It is very likely that [the CCP] is asking Wu Bangguo to take sides. If he takes the wrong choice, he will end up like Zhou Yongkang. A lot of his corruption will surface before he is forced to step down.”

 

Translation by Susan Wang. Written in English by Sally Appert.

 

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/872246-one-big-tiger-down-several-more-to-follow/

 

**    姑妄聽之 卜凱



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反腐大刀 揮向江澤民上海幫

 

陳君碩, 聯合報, 08/13/14

 

中共總書記習近平的反腐暴風圈擴大,前天宣布逮捕上海光明食品集團前董事長王宗南,由於王宗南曾是涉貪入獄的上海前市委書記陳良宇的部屬,外媒分析,大陸反腐大刀,正一步步揮向大陸前領導人江澤民的「上海幫」。

 

上海人民檢察院前天宣布逮捕光明食品集團前董事長王宗南,罪名是涉嫌在聯華超市股份有限公司任職期間挪用公款、受賄,王宗南一直被認為是引領上海國企改革的重要角色,還曾榮獲上海市優秀企業家和最有價值卓越商業領袖等殊榮。

 

大陸人民網報導,上海前市委書記陳良宇,一九八七年到一九九二年間擔任黃浦區長時,王宗南就擔任區長助理、副區長,一九九五年,四十歲的王宗南棄政從商,擔任上海友誼集團總經理,兼任聯華超市董事長;二○○六年,光明食品集團成立,王宗南擔任集團董事長、黨委書記,時任上海市委書記的陳良宇曾公開表示,「作為現代化國際大都市,上海迫切需要一大批具有國際競爭力的大集團、大企業。」

 

上海光明食品集團的前身是上海益民食品一廠,英國廣播公司BBC報導,江澤民在一九五年代曾是益民食品副廠長,即使改名為光明食品,仍與該集團保持密切私人關係。王宗南被逮捕,目的之一就是要逐步打擊江澤民上海幫的影響力。

 

王宗南行事風格強勢,調任光明食品集團後,銷售規模從二○○六年的六百五十九億人民幣,增加到二一二年的一千三百九十三億。新華網報導,有業內人士直言,王宗南「每一次改革都觸及許多利益集團」,「王宗南落馬不排除內部舉報,引發上級徹查的可能性。」

 

王宗南去年十一月廿五日傳因病休假,隔兩天光明集團宣布王宗南因病退休,當時就傳出他被紀委調查。

 

2014/08/13 聯合報】

 

http://udn.com/NEWS/MAINLAND/MAI1/8867696.shtml



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What’s Driving Chinese Officials to Suicide?

 

Joshua Keating, 04/10/14

 

Xu Ye'an, the 58-year-old deputy chief of China’s Bureau for Letter and Calls, killed himself under mysterious circumstances in his office this week, the latest in a series of high-ranking officials to commit suicide recently.

 

Simon Denyer of the Washington Post reports that the deaths have led to speculation over whether President Xi Jinping’s high-profile and wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign is “putting so much pressure on his ruling Communist Party that some members were being driven to take their own lives.”

 

The circumstances leading up to the deaths lend some credence to this idea. Xu was not known to be under investigation, but one of his senior colleagues was recently fired for violating party rules, and his office -- responsible for handling citizen complaints -- has been the target of corruption allegations in the past.

 

Xu’s suicide follows that of Li Wufeng, the senior information office official referred to as China’s “top Internet cop,” who jumped to his death from his sixth-floor office in March. The South China Morning Post reports that Li had been “questioned several times by Communist Party discipline officers over the past few months, but the nature of it was unclear.”

 

Zhou Yu, a senior Chongqing police official who hanged himself in a hotel room last week, had been instrumental in now-disgraced Mayor Bo Xilai’s crackdown on organized crime. Bo, who had been a rising power in the Communist Party, was sentenced to life in prison last year on corruption charges.

 

Other recent suicides include a building safety official in the city of Fenghua, where an aging apartment building had recently collapsed, and a senior official at a state-owned power company.

 

The timing of this could all be just a coincidence. China does have a fairly high suicide rate by international standards. But given the scale of Xi’s crackdown -- 182,000 officials were punished last year, according to official numbers -- and the kind of sentences that these officials can face in the worst cases, it wouldn’t be surprising if some officeholders were under more stress than normal.

 

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

 

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/04/10/what_s_driving_chinese_officials_to_suicide.html



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大陸打老虎, 臺灣養老虎. 消長立見!
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昨天, 先看到美國媒體報導: 大陸要展開對高階官員的調查.

過了一陣子, 中文媒體才鎖定周永康.

看起來: 一般認為習近平有點下大賭注的掃貪, 真的是展開了!

美國一般認為: 這樣子搞, 下場有美國的甘迺迪兄弟前車之鑒 - 會有殺身之禍! 不過, 諾大的國家, 積壓了幾千年的官僚制度與貪腐的習慣, 還真要有決心, 不怕惡勢力, 才能夠痛下針砭.

回頭看臺灣: 立法院上演封殺監察委員的大戲, 一付要幫王金平扳倒馬英九的架式. 不禁讓人想到: 鍘王大事, 竟然被臺灣許多人民 以馬王政爭來歪曲事實, 要為關說王支持不說, 還要指鹿為馬, 把剪除關說, 誣賴成為政爭?

我們這個爛立法院, 成事不足, 只能搗亂, 敗家!

真是不看當今局勢:

倭寇在美寇的逼迫之下, 要來對炎黃子孫, 進行下一個珍珠港事變. 日本不是沒有今之山本, 可惜日本想擺脫美國的有智之士, 早就被美國給做掉. 美國讓日本當爪耙子, 當攻擊炎黃子孫的炮灰!

面對美日的侵略, 我們唯有靠奮力自強的國人, 在戰場上與美國日本的鐵蹄硬碰硬, 才能夠: 不叫胡馬過陰山!

臺灣這些小丑! 只會支持關說王, 當美國的走狗! 日本和美國來了, 只會把屁股洗乾脆, 隔江猶唱後庭花!

大陸打老虎, 臺灣養老虎.

炎黃子孫的前途在那裡? 消長立見!




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How Xi Jinping Swatted Flies to Trip Biggest China Tiger

 

Ting Shi, Shai Oster and Aibing Guo, 07/30/14

 

To catch a tiger in China, it turns out first you need to swat a lot of flies.

 

Less than a month after Xi Jinping took the helm of the Communist Party in 2012, a brief report appeared on the state-owned news agency saying a senior official in a southwestern province was under investigation for graft.

 

While announcements on corruption probes were nothing new, later developments showed the move was the opening salvo by Xi, 61, in what’s become the farthest-reaching takedown of a top Chinese leadership figure and his networks of influence since the aftermath of Mao Zedong’s death.

 

When the initial target, Sichuan Province deputy party chief Li Chuncheng -- accused of enriching himself and his family with state money -- was followed by the downfall of two fellow Sichuan officials, a pattern began to emerge. The individuals all had ties to Zhou Yongkang, a hardliner who backed disgraced Bo Xilai and under whom the domestic-security budget grew bigger than defense before he retired in 2012.

 

By last month, the campaign by Xi, who pledged to net both “tigers and flies,” parlance for cadres from the top to bottom ranks, spanned hundreds of Communists. It all came to a head yesterday with the official announcement of Zhou’s purge.

 

Scope of Influence

 

Zhou, 71, was a tiger as big as they come, with power stretching across government, industry and security forces. He was a onetime member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee that rules China and a former supremo of the oil industry. His roles gave him influence comparable to being Dick Cheney, who shares a background in oil, J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI and Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller all rolled into one.

 

Each of those who vanished from public view could be connected to him as colleagues, subordinates and business associates, and some even by blood.

 

Taking down such a powerful man was unthinkable under the previous generation of leaders. Doing so violated an unwritten rule of elite factional politics against probing senior-most officials even after they left office. The guideline protected patronage systems used to guarantee smooth power transitions after decades of political turmoil.

 

The steady progression of the Zhou-faction’s dismemberment became apparent in reports in the tightly controlled Chinese media, which toward the end was freely speculating when the coup-de-grace would be delivered against its chief.

 

Preparing Public

 

How Zhou was slowly encircled reveals the care that Xi took to overcome opposition, keep the party united and prepare the public for a scandal that might damage the party’s legitimacy. It’s also a cautionary tale for a Communist elite that has accumulated wealth for decades while governing without public accountability.

 

 “At least in the reform era, no other member of the Standing Committee has been attacked for corruption,” said Joseph Fewsmith, a political science professor at Boston University who specializes in China’s elite politics. “The fear has always been that if factional infighting is taken to the Standing Committee level, then it might deepen rifts and make maintaining the appearance of unity more difficult.”

 

Like peeling the layers of an onion, the Zhou project has worked through layers of associates. First his old comrades from when he led Sichuan province were rounded up. Next, investigators ran through his colleagues in the energy business. They picked up in-laws of his, and his son. After that, they took down his associates in the Ministry of Public Security. They left the toughest for last -- his inner circle of senior advisers and personal secretaries.

 

Bo Xilai

 

And before they dealt with Zhou, the leadership first had to address his ally Bo Xilai, the populist Chongqing party boss with eyes on a top party slot in Beijing who was removed after his wife was convicted of murdering a U.K. businessman.

 

Along the way, investigators plowed through three provinces and the national broadcaster, CCTV. The campaign has felled a top general who was a Politburo member, and two incumbent members of the Central Committee, which elects the Politburo, as well as thousands of local officials.

 

“You work from the bottom up,” Fewsmith said. “You have to accumulate evidence to build a case and to persuade politically powerful people that it is necessary to take the extra step.”

 

Campaign’s Breadth

 

Xi’s nationwide campaign to rein in graft has ensnared more than 480 officials spanning all of China’s provinces and largest cities. Almost a quarter of those officials or senior executives in state-owned companies with a vice-minister rank or higher toppled during the past 18 months have direct links to Zhou, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Officials are typically detained in secret, without the opportunity to address publicly charges.

 

“There are many political considerations and implications in making such a decision,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political-science professor at Hong Kong Baptist University. “A consensus needs to be reached at the top of the party.”

 

Leading the investigation is the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, or CCDI, an internal party watchdog veiled in secrecy that only last year started a website and tipsters hotline.

 

Wang Qishan, 66, an economic specialist who rose through the banking sector before running Beijing’s successful bid for the 2008 Olympics and then getting a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee, is bringing increased financial savvy to the role of anti-corruption tsar.

 

Lead Detectives

 

The CCDI doesn’t have formal power to arrest or press charges. In practice, however, the zhongjiwei, as it’s called in Chinese, is among the most powerful and feared organizations. It is able to detain indefinitely and investigate any one of China’s roughly 87 million Communist Party members -- effectively every government official or executive at the state-owned enterprises that dominate China’s economy in key sectors such as finance, energy and transportation.

 

The CCDI sits parallel to the government’s law enforcement authorities, and outside of Zhou’s onetime control of the domestic-security apparatus. It answers only to the party hierarchy and ultimately the secretary general, President Xi.

 

CCDI units can report suspicions directly to Xi, state media say, letting them bypass mid-ranking bureaucrats who might seek to stymie any investigations.

 

‘Direct Line’

 

“The direct line between the dispatched central investigators and Xi showed the leadership’s resolve to crack down on corruption,” said Zhu Lijia, professor of public affairs at the Chinese Academy of Governance in Beijing. It shows that “no matter how senior the suspect is, whoever the case might involve, the investigation will get to the bottom of it,” Zhu said.

 

It’s unclear what specifically prompted the investigation into Zhou, though there are plenty of theories. Zhou had backed Bo Xilai, the charismatic former Chongqing municipality boss. Bo was a candidate for higher office before he was jailed for life on charges including bribery after his wife was convicted of murdering a British businessman who allegedly helped ferry the family wealth abroad.

 

“In a sense Zhou’s case was triggered by the Bo Xilai scandal, as they’re political allies,” said Cheng Li, director of China research and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “They’re both hardliners, they were both versed in internal security measures such as phone-tapping.”

 

No Tears

 

One difference is “nobody will shed tears for Zhou,” Li said, adding that Bo, who hewed to Maoist doctrines and oversaw a crackdown on organized crime, had some sympathy among cadres.

 

Steve Tsang, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, said party insiders told him the last straw might have been when Zhou ordered the phones of Xi and other Politburo members tapped ahead of the 18th Party Congress in November 2012, when Xi was appointed secretary general.

 

Just 22 days after Xi’s appointment, the government announced the detention of Li Chuncheng, one of two deputy party secretaries of Sichuan, the western province famous for its spicy food and rugged mountains.

 

Sichuan’s capital, Chengdu, garnered headlines in 2012 as the location to which Bo Xilai’s onetime police chief Wang Lijun fled with evidence that Bo’s wife was involved in the murder of Briton Neil Heywood. Wang took refuge at the U.S. consulate in the city.

 

Sichuan Days

 

Zhou served as provincial party chief of Sichuan, one of China’s four most populous provinces, from 1999 to 2002.

 

Li Chuncheng was the first of at least 18 Sichuan-based politicians and business executives tied to Zhou who have been detained, ousted or probed. Among them was Tan Li, vice governor of Hainan at the time of his downfall, who worked for 37 years in Sichuan, including as propaganda chief in Chengdu.

 

By August last year, the investigation turned to the oil industry, where Zhou had risen through the ranks for three decades from a technician in Daqing, China’s most important oilfield, during the Cultural Revolution. He ascended to lead what later became China’s biggest oil producer, China National Petroleum Corp.

 

The highest-ranking executive detained in the probe came in September with the fall of Jiang Jiemin, 58, the former chairman of China National Petroleum, who had been promoted to head of a commission overseeing state-owned companies.

 

Oil Industry

 

At least 13 oil-related executives have either been punished or are under investigation. More than a hundred officials and staff were queried by disciplinary agents, according to Caixin magazine.

 

By the end of 2013, Zhou was powerless to stop the spread of stories on China’s internet and in its media that he was destined for a fall. His family became tabloid fodder in an apparent attempt to turn public opinion against him.

 

Zhou Yongkang’s son Zhou Bin was reported by Caixin magazine to have done business deals with Liu Han, the Sichuan businessman sentenced to death after being convicted of running a billion dollar mafia empire involved in murder and extortion. Zhou Bin had attended university in Texas before moving back to China to dabble in tourism and oil-services companies with his wife and in-laws.

 

Chinese tourists started flocking to the outskirts of Wuxi, the ancestral Zhou family home in coastal Jiangsu province, after Chinese media broke the story of arrests of family members, upending a longstanding taboo on reporting on senior officials’ private lives. During his high-school years in Jiangsu, Zhou changed his name to Yongkang -- meaning always safe and healthy in Chinese -- from Yuangen because a classmate had the same name.

 

Family Business

 

Zhou’s two brothers are accused of using his influence to get rich, according to the Beijing News. Photos and a video taken from a drone flight showed a large, white-walled compound ringed with security cameras. Family members owned luxury cars and a dealership for high-end liquor, and for a price would use their connections to settle business disputes, reports in state media said.

 

By December, the CCDI started piercing Zhou’s stronghold in the security sector, detaining an ex-deputy minister, Li Dongsheng. Li, a former propagandist with no law-enforcement experience who had worked for the state broadcaster CCTV for more than two decades and then the propaganda ministry, was promoted by Zhou to the public security ministry in 2009.

 

Li had introduced Zhou to his second wife, a journalist for CCTV’s finance channel 28 years his junior, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a person close to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. The two married in 2001.

 

TV Network

 

Since then, other CCTV employees have been accused of corruption, including the popular host of a business program, Rui Chenggang -- famous for his nationalist criticism of a Starbucks Corp. coffee shop’s presence in Beijing’s Forbidden City -- and his boss.

 

The investigation later swept into north China’s coal-rich Shanxi province. A provincial mayor was accused of buying his position from a Zhou relative, according to state media. Eventually, at least 15 senior provincial officials were toppled, including the brother of former President Hu Jintao’s top aide.

 

China’s media dropped any pretext that Zhou wasn’t the target on March 14, when the Global Times, which is owned by the party’s official People’s Daily, was the first Chinese outlet to identify explicitly Zhou Bin’s father as Zhou Yongkang.

 

Final Step

 

The final preparatory act came July 2, when three of Zhou’s former personal secretaries were expelled from the party for corruption and had their cases forwarded to prosecutors on the same day. Tan Hong was a senior member of the leadership’s Secret Service-like bodyguard. Yu Gang was one of the party’s top public security officials. Ji Wenlin was Zhou’s longest-serving secretary, assisting him from 1998 to 2008 before getting promoted to vice governor of Hainan province.

 

In all, six of Zhou’s former personal secretaries, who perform a function similar to chiefs of staff in American politics and who are groomed for higher office, have been investigated. They include a former vice governor of Sichuan and two senior executives at China National Petroleum.

 

“They can be very powerful,” Zhu at the Chinese Academy of Governance said of personal secretaries. “They are often treated like the extended family of the leader and nobody would want to offend them.”

 

The day after the three cases were formally handed over to prosecutors, the People’s Daily website ran a flowchart illustrating “how to beat big tigers” in the Politburo. At the bottom of the diagram was a pithy conclusion: “No special zone for corruption, no off-limits zone for anti-corruption.”

 

Alumni Reunion

 

The last time Zhou was seen publicly was at an alumni reunion on China’s National Day, Oct. 1, at the China University of Petroleum.

 

He has been under virtual house arrest since December, according to a South China Morning Post report.

 

During the 18-month campaign against Zhou and his networks, none of China’s senior or retired leaders spoke publicly about his fate, a sign of implicit consent for his downfall. Fewsmith said the July 29 announcement means “everybody has now signed off on the handling of Zhou’s case,” probably including all the retired members of the Politburo Standing Committee.

 

“There is consensus within the party that it must purge itself, and that if it doesn’t then its crisis will deepen,” said Kerry Brown, the director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Xi and his supporters concluded that Zhou and his clan “grew corrupt because they did not adhere sincerely to orthodox ideology and were looking after themselves,” Brown said. “So they needed to be taken out.”

 

To contact the reporters on this story: Ting Shi in Hong Kong at tshi31@bloomberg.net; Shai Oster in Hong Kong at soster@bloomberg.net; Aibing Guo in Hong Kong at aguo10@bloomberg.net

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-30/xi-shows-how-to-catch-a-tiger-as-all-paths-lead-to-zhou-yongkang.html



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We Are Witnessing China's Biggest Political Takedown In 30 Years               

 

Business Insider, 07/30/14

 

Zhou Yongkang, one of China's most powerful politicians is officially being investigated for suspected "serious disciplinary violation."

In the scope of Xi Jinping's corruption crackdown aimed at tigers (high ranking officials) and flies (low ranking officials), Xi has snared himself a tiger.

 

71-year old Zhou is a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) — the most important decision making body in the Chinese Communist Party.

 

Zhou rose through the ranks from China's oilfields. He began as a technician at the Daqing oilfield in Heilongjiang and eventually became head of the Liaohe oil sector, reports Keith Zhai at South China Morning Post. In 1996, he became head of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). From Zhai:

 

Most of Zhou’s top aides from the oil sector days have also been detained, including Li Hualin, CNPC’s vice-general manager and Zhou’s former personal secretary . Zhou’s family members are also under investigation for alleged unlawful deals involving the CNPC, including Zhou’s eldest son Zhou Bin, daughter-in-law Huang Wan, his brother Zhou Yuanqing, sister-in-law Zhou Lingying and her son Zhou Feng.

 

Jiang Jiemin, former CNPC head and another Zhou protégé, was questioned by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s anti-graft watchdog, in 2012 for paying to silence families of victims involved in a car crash in Beijing that claimed the life of the only son of Ling Jihua, the former top aide to former president Hu Jintao. Jiang was later expelled from the party and remains under investigation.

 

Millions of dollars illegally transferred from CNPC’s company account raised suspicions that Zhou’s camp has forged an alliance with Ling, who was a rising power in the party but now holds only a symbolic post after the deadly car crash involving a luxury Ferrari.

 

Zhou came under the scanner in May of 2012, when his ties with Bo Xilai landed him in trouble. Back then Communist Party members wrote to then president Hu Jintao asking for the dismissal of Zhou. They alleged that he was part of a movement to revive a Maoist movement in China.

 

The Implications Of Zhou's Fall

 

Someone of Zhou's political stature hasn't been taken down in 30 years, Bill Bishop, author of Sinocism, told Business Insider.

It ends the notion that once you've made it to the PSC you have immunity, Bishop said.

 

Zhou's takedown, of course, fits nicely into Xi's move to consolidate power. "There is little doubt these people were engaged in remarkable amounts of corruption, and there are all sorts of unproven rumors about plots and deals among this group in the runup up to the 2012 18th Party Congress," Bishop said. "But taking down this network has also allowed Xi to gain control over the security services, and much faster than most observers expected.

 

"Given the interests affected by this corruption crackdown, it is vital for Xi to have under his control the elements of hard power that can keep grumbling and complaining about the campaign from spiraling into much more serious and viable resistance. My understanding is that by Q3 of 2013 he had successfully consolidated control over this system."

 

It isn't immediately clear what form of sentence Zhou might receive, but he is expected to be handed over to the judicial system next.

 

But this will send a clear message that no one, including officials in China's giant state owned enterprises (SOEs), is immune.

 

Bishop argues that this is bullish for the economy, because Xi's consolidation of political power helps him to push on corruption and economic reform*.

 

Xi does however face an interesting problem now. If he goes after too many former PSC members it will shake faith in the system.

 

"It's very embarrassing for the party," Bishop said.

 

But if he stops at just one, it could end up just looking like a power struggle.

 

This may only be the beginning of the story.

 

Note:* The article was corrected to reflect that Bishop meant Xi's consolidation of power could bring economic reform.

 

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/witnessing-chinas-biggest-political-takedown-152215927.html
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