China’s indicted former security boss spied on top leaders

Zhou Yongkang, China’s former security chief (Photo courtesy: AP)
China’s former security chief Zhou Yongkang, now indicted for corruption, abuse of power, and leaking state secret. (Photo courtesy: AP)

(, Apr21, 2015) – China’s former security chief Zhou Yongkang, now indicted for corruption, abuse of power, and leaking state secret, had ordered unauthorized spying on the country’s top leaders, including President Xi Jinping, reported the Bloomberg financial news service Apr 20, citing two unnamed people familiar with the probe. The investigation was reported to have found that Zhou had used phone taps and other methods to gather information on the family assets, private lives and political stances of the country’s top leaders.

The report noted that Zhou, who retired from the Politburo Standing Committee – the top leadership group in the party – in 2012, is the highest-ranking individual accused of corruption among the more than 100,000 officials caught so far.

China’s official Xinhua news agency reported in Dec 2014 that Zhou had leaked party and national secrets, citing a party statement announcing his expulsion. The report did not provide any further details at that time.

Now the report cited one of the people with knowledge of the probe as saying Liang Ke, the former director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of State Security, had helped Zhou gather information on party leaders. The source has also said former deputy police chief Li Dongsheng had released some of the information to overseas Chinese language websites.

Also, China’s Supreme People’s Court said in a report in Mar 2015 that Zhou and former Chongqing Municipality party chief Bo Xilai, seen as a rising star in the party until he was arrested and tried for abuse of power and bribery, had “engaged in political activities” that “sabotaged party unity”.

Bo, sentenced to life in prison in 2013, was said to have testified during his trial that he received orders from a law and order committee then headed by Zhou in early 2012 on how to cover up the defection of the then Chongqing police chief to a US consulate. Zhou was also said to have warned Bo in 2012 that he was about to be removed from his post.

The party in Jan 2015 said Zhou had “severely harmed the Party and the people and led a number of officials astray”. It added that his stain “must be washed clean”.

The report believed that Zhou could be given the death penalty or life in jail, with his conviction being all but foregone conclusion. His date of trial has not been announced yet. Trials in China last only for hours or at most only for a few days.

Zhou and Bo, together with two other disgraced former top officials, former president Hu Jintao’s one-time chief of staff Ling Jihua and Xu Caihou, once vice-chairman of the military’s top decision making body, are seen as the new “Gang of Four”. They posed a potential challenge to Xi’s leadership of the party, the report cited Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based historian who previously worked at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, as saying.

Xi Jinping is seen as China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping and he is said to be using the anti-corruption campaign as a tool to consolidate his power.


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