Chinese prosecutors formally charged former security chief and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang with bribery, abuse of power, and intentionally disclosing state secrets. Targeted for investigation last year, Zhou is the most senior official to have fallen under Xi Jinping’s massive and ongoing party purge. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The official Xinhua News Agency said Friday prosecutors alleged Zhou Yongkang took advantage of his position to seek benefits for others and illegally accepted other people’s “very valuable” property. They alleged he also intentionally disclosed state secrets, Xinhua said, without elaborating.
The alleged misdeeds took place while Mr. Zhou was a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, its most powerful decision-making body, according to Xinhua. But Xinhua said the 72-year-old committed his alleged crimes throughout much of his career, including his stint as a top executive at state-run oil giant China National Petroleum Corp. as well as his time as a senior party official in China’s southwestern Sichuan province.
The initial announcement of Zhou’s investigation signaled that Xi’s purge had moved to a new level. Party officials and PLA generals of the highest rank have started looking over their shoulders. Many of the most powerful of them, like Xu Caihou, have fallen since, along with untold thousands of their underlings.
Xi’s purge is in part a push to consolidate the broad powers of the Chinese state into his own hands, and it shows no signs of abating. The formerly unassuming President continues on his quest to become the most powerful man in China since Mao.