China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign has felled one of the most powerful figures in Chinese politics, former head of domestic security Zhou Yongkang—the highest-ranking official to be investigated for corruption during the Communist Party’s 65-year reign. Bloomberg reports:
A member of the party’s most powerful Politburo Standing Committee until November, 2012, Zhou had not been seen in public since October. He was an ally of Bo Xilai, the ex-Chongqing party secretary who was convicted of bribery and abuse of power and sentenced to life behind bars last year.The move, announced via the state-run Xinhua News Agency, represents a tightening grip on power by President Xi Jinping, who took over the Communist Party in the leadership change-over that saw Zhou, 71, retire, and consolidated control over the military and a panel on economic reforms. It marks Xi’s boldest move yet in an anti-graft campaign that’s nabbed dozens of regional cadres, ex-military officers, employees at state-owned enterprises and senior ministers.
The news is not unexpected; many speculated that Zhou was Xi’s ultimate prey, as one after another of the former’s allies fell to the anti-corruption purge. As we wrote recently, it looks like Xi is battening down the hatches in expectation of tough economic and geopolitical times ahead, and using these reforms to concentrate power in his own hands. Trapping this big “tiger” is a bold move, but it’s likely just the beginning.