China probes powerful ex-security officer over graft charges
Washington – Chinese President Xi Jinping has authorized a corruption inquiry against the powerful former head of the domestic security apparatus, Zhou Yongkang.
It is the first time since the founding of the People’s Republic of China that an official who has held such high office has been charged with a formal corruption.
According to the New York Times, Yongkang was once a member of the Communist Party’s top rung of power, the Politburo Standing Committee.
He has been accused of abuse of power and corruption by officials and oil company executives associated with him.
He occupied an extraordinary nexus of state money and power, even by the standards of Chinese politics.
Educated in oil-field exploration, he spent much of his career in the state oil industry and wielded considerable influence over the sector.
Later, while a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, he oversaw the party’s security apparatus, with control over the police, prosecutors, courts and the main intelligence service, the report said
Until now, the highest-ranking politicians subjected to corruption inquiries were serving members of the Politburo, a rung lower than the Standing Committee in the party hierarchy, which included Bo Xilai.
Xilai, an ally of Zhou was sentenced to life in prison in September for taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power.
It is not yet clear whether Zhou will be prosecuted and punished, as internal party inquiries do not necessarily end in criminal charges, even when culpability is found, the report added.