Communist Party expels senior figure
Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor of Sichuan province, faces prosecution
Zhou Yongkang, who is at the centre of China’s biggest corruption scandal in more than six decades. Photograph: Reuters/Jason Lee
Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy governor of Sichuan province and a senior aide to retired Communist Party security tsar Zhou Yongkang, has been expelled from public office and will face prosecution, Xinhua news agency said yesterday.
The development is the latest sign that the net is tightening around Mr Zhou (71), the former national security chief who ruled over the police and other law enforcement agencies for almost a decade.
It is expected that formal charges against Mr Zhou may be filed in coming weeks.
While part of a broader crackdown on corruption, the purge of Mr Zhou is also seen as a way for Chinese president Xi Jinping to demonstrate his unassailable position as leader and to tighten his grip on state-owned enterprises.
Mr Zhou is a retired member of China’s ruling elite, the standing committee of the politburo, and is the most senior figure yet to face charges of corruption.
Mr Guo (65) is accused of taking “massive bribes” directly or through his son, and abusing his power by helping others, including his son, to make profits, the central commission for discipline inspection said.
“The investigation found out that Guo had exacted profits for others with his power, taken great amount of bribes and gifts himself or through the hands of his son,” Xinhua said.
“Also, Guo has been found seeking profits for his son’s businesses with his power, and of moral corruption.”
“Moral corruption” implies he had extramarital affairs.
He and Mr Zhou worked together for more than a decade until 2002, when Mr Zhou became a member of the party’s politburo as head of the public security ministry.
At the time of his arrest, Mr Guo was semi-retired in an honorary role as chairman of the Federation of Literary and Art Circles in Sichuan, Mr Zhou’s political power base.
The news about Mr Guo brings the Communist Party a step closer to deciding the fate of Mr Zhou, who has reportedly been detained under internal investigation since December.
The investigation has rounded up other allies of Mr Zhou, including Ji Wenlin, vice-governor of Hainan island and Mr Zhou’s former secretary; and Li Hualin, deputy head of state oil company China National Petroleum Corporation, who also worked as Mr Zhou’s secretary.
Bo Xilai faction
Mr Zhou has been linked to the faction that supports purged former senior cadre Bo Xilai, who was jailed for life for corruption and abuse of power.
The investigation into Mr Zhou has led to the seizure of some €10.5 billion in assets from his family members and close associates, along with the arrest or questioning of more than 300 of them.