Zhou Yongkang - fall from the peak of power 0

Zhou Yongkang - fall from the peak of power 0

Once a powerful man in the Chinese oil industry and police, Mr. Zhou Yongkang, a former standing member of the Politburo, is being investigated for corruption charges after a seemingly safe landing in 2012.

Zhou Yongkang (third from right) once gathered a lot of power in his hands when he was China’s minister of public security.

For nearly a decade, Zhou Yongkang, the son of a poor family in rural Jiangsu province, was one of China’s most powerful men.

The South China Morning Post, citing previous sources, said that Mr. Zhou and his wife, Ms. Jia Xiaoye, were in fact arrested last December in Beijing.

As the eldest son of a family in West Qianshou Village, Wuxi, Jiangsu, Zhou Yongkang escaped the harshness and poverty of farming life, with a good degree in high school and passed the university entrance exam.

Zhou Yongkang began his career as a machinist in the Daqing oilfield in Heilongjiang.

`Mr. Zhou threw himself into his work with great enthusiasm,` said a person with close connections in the industry. `He is a natural leader. Winters in northeast China are long and cold, but

Mr. Chu was famous as a strong and bold worker, but also very generous.

Gradually, Zhou Yongkang became the head of Liuhe oil industry and had a relationship with former vice president Tang Qinghong, who was then on the National Energy Commission.

In 1999, Zhou Yongkang became secretary of the resource-rich province of Sichuan and continued his career.

In 2002, he was appointed Minister of Public Security and five years later was named in the list of 9 members of the Standing Committee of the Chinese Politburo, the highest decision-making body, alongside Hu Jintao.

He became head of the Central Political and Law Commission (CPLC), responsible for the domestic security of all of China, including police, courts, prisons, and domestic security supervision.

According to a report by China’s finance ministry, in 2013 the official budget managed by the CPLC exceeded the defense budget for the fourth consecutive year, with $124 billion spent on domestic security compared to $123 billion spent on defense.

`Maintaining stability is a very, very vague concept, and there are many loopholes for corruption,` Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at City University of Hong Kong, told AFP.

`When there are so many loopholes for corruption, there are so many ways to spend, you have so many resources to build your network of contacts. That’s why he became so powerful`

Building power and resources, a network of close friends and factions within the party leadership, is part of what makes Mr. Chu take advantage of political power.

Zhou Yongkang - fall from the peak of power

Mr. Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai (both wearing black shirts) at a celebration.

Caught in the net

According to South China Morning Post, in August last year, Chinese leaders reached a consensus to investigate Mr. Zhou.

In his last public appearance in early October last year, Mr. Zhou spent the morning at Suzhou high school as the school celebrated its 60th anniversary.

But that effort may be too small, too late.

`In the eyes of Xi Jinping and other leaders, Zhou Yongkang’s crime was supporting Bo Xilai,` said Willy Lam, a political expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

`Bo Xilai formed a secret alliance, a faction to establish power, and Zhou Yongkang was one of Bo Xilai’s closest people, so Zhou was investigated.`

The net continued to tighten around Mr. Chu late last year, when Li Dong Sinh, a former deputy minister of security and a close confidant of Mr. Chu, was arrested.

Most of Mr. Chu’s close assistants in the oil and gas industry were also recently arrested, including Ly Hoa Lam, deputy general director of CNPC and Mr. Chu’s former personal secretary.

In addition, Jiang Jiemin, the former head of CNPC and close confidant of Mr. Zhou, was also questioned by the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection.

According to Chinese media, to date there are at least 13 officials related to Mr. Zhou under investigation.

A former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, Mr. Zhou became the highest official `caught` in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.

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