China says investigating powerful former security chief for graft

Tue Jul 29, 2014 5:42pm GMT

By Benjamin Kang Lim and Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Communist Party said on Tuesday it had launched a corruption investigation into former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, one of the country's most influential politicians of the last decade, in a case that has its origins in a party power struggle.

Zhou, 71, is by far the highest-profile figure caught up in President Xi Jinping's crackdown on corruption. Indeed, Zhou is the most senior Chinese official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the party swept to power in 1949.

He was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee - China's apex of power - and held the post of security tsar until he retired in 2012.

A brief statement released to coincide with a regular party meeting said Zhou was being investigated for suspected "serious disciplinary violations", the usual euphemism for corruption, although it could also imply additional wrongdoing.

"Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping reached a consensus to deal with Zhou Yongkang for violating party discipline," a source with ties to the leadership told Reuters, referring to President Xi and his predecessors.

The source said Zhou had been accused of corruption involving family members and accepting bribes to promote officials.

"Not all charges against Zhou would be made public," added the source, who requested anonymity to avoid repercussions for speaking to a foreign reporter without authorisation.

Zhou, who was last seen at an alumni celebration at the China University of Petroleum on Oct. 1, could not be reached for comment. It was not clear if he has a lawyer.   Continued...

Then China's Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang reacts as he attends the Hebei delegation discussion sessions at the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing October 16, 2007.   REUTERS/Jason Lee
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