Chinese court launches broadside against disgraced official

Trial against former security czar Zhou Yongkang expected to take place soon

China's Supreme Court has taken aim at the former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang in its annual report, accusing him of "trampling on the law" and causing "severe harm", in what may be the latest stages preparing for his public defenestration.

China's top court said staff in the office should "clearly recognise the serious damage" caused by Mr Zhou, as well as that wrought by jailed former rising star of the Communist Party, Bo Xilai, and others.

“The adverse influence of Zhou’s violations of law and party discipline on the court’s work should be thoroughly rooted out,” it said in its annual work report, released on Wednesday.

Supreme Court officials were urged to “completely eliminate the adverse impact of Zhou Yongkang’s serious disciplinary violations on the workings of the court”.


Most Chinese political rhetoric at the moment is focused on being seen to implement the rule of law, and the country's chief justice Zhou Qiang is emerging as a very powerful figure.

Mr Zhou, (71), was arrested and expelled from the party last year, accused of crimes ranging from taking bribes to having mistresses to leaking state secrets.

President Xi Jinping has launched a swingeing campaign to root out corruption in China, whether it involves massive wealth accumulated by the powerful "tigers" of the elite or backhanders palmed over to the "flies" at the bottom of the Communist Party.

Since he made his pledge back in November 2012, tens of thousands of officials have been arrested and he has taken some significant scalps, including that of Mr Bo, the former party boss in Dalian and Chongqing who is serving a life sentence for corruption and abuse of power, while his wife Gu Kailai sits in jail for murder.

Not since the days of the great purges of the era of founding father Chairman Mao Zedong has such a senior figure as Zhou Yongkang faced public censure like this.

Mr Zhou was a member of the Central Committee of the Politburo, in charge of state security.

It’s been a busy year for the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party watchdog.

Over recent months there has been a wave of arrests among Mr Zhou’s power base, indicating that the Chinese investigators are specifically targeting his network of influence in the corruption crackdown.

The court’s report accused Mr Zhou of the somewhat arcane charge of “non-organisational political activities”, and legal academics sought to work out what exactly the term meant.

Professor Zhang Xixian of the Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee said he had never encountered it in his studies, according to a Xinhua analysis.

"'Non-organisational political activities' refers to political activities that are illegal and not in line with organisational procedures and requirements," Zhuang Deshui, a researcher with the clean government research department at Peking University, was quoted by the Beijing Youth Daily as saying.

“Last year, courts at all levels investigated 2,180 officers of the judicial system and transferred 180 of them to prosecuting authorities,” the report ran.

Some analysts believe that Mr Zhou and Mr Bo had formed factions to challenge the leadership of the party, and that the whole crackdown on corruption is an extended power play.

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan, an Irish Times contributor, spent 15 years reporting from Beijing