1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

China investigates ex-security chief

July 29, 2014

China’s ruling Communist Party has begun investigating former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang on corruption charges. Zhou’s case may prove to be the biggest graft scandal in China.

Zhou Yongkang
Image: Reuters

The Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said that it suspected Zhou of “serious disciplinary violations,” but without giving much detail about the charges.

Zhou was one of the nine leaders in the Politburo Standing Committee- the inner circle which rules the Communist Party and consequently, all of China. As the head of all security operations in China, Zhou controlled operations of domestic spy agencies, access to information and strategic areas of the government.

According to a Chinese finance ministry report, China's overall budget for domestic security amounted to at least $110 billion (82 billion euros) annually.

Under house arrest

Zhou retired from his position in 2012 and was placed under house arrest last year in December, according to Reuters.

The news agency also reported that Chinese authorities had seized assets worth nearly $15 billion from Zhou’s family members and that more than 300 of Zhou’s relatives, allies and protégés had been taken in for questioning.

Most-senior politician implicated

Zhou is the senior-most politician in China to be embroiled in a scandal related to corruption since the Communist Party took over the country’s reins in 1949. Most members in the Politburo were considered off-limits as far as prosecution was concerned, since it was believed that the leaders’ immunity would help maintain party unity.

However, China’s president, Xi Jinping, has made the fight against corruption a central issue in his government ever since he assumed his post last year in March.

President Xi has promised to purge corrupt officers at all levels, but experts believe that this may be Xi's way of showing that he has consolidated his power.

mg/ipj(Reuters, AP)