Corruption crackdown in China continues

Speculation grows about date for Zhou Yongkang showdown

Ji Wenlin, a former aide to China’s embattled retired domestic security boss, Zhou Yongkang, has been expelled from the Communist Party for various acts of suspected corruption. Photograph: Reuters

Ji Wenlin, a former aide to China’s embattled retired domestic security boss, Zhou Yongkang, has been expelled from the Communist Party for various acts of suspected corruption. Photograph: Reuters

 

After expelling a top military figure earlier this week, China’s Communist Party intensified its crackdown on corruption by ousting three more officials from its ranks who appeared to have close ties with another former political heavyweight, Zhou Yongkang.

Speculation is that the anti-graft crackdown is reaching its crescendo and that the final showdown with the former security czar Zhou, who was a member of the party’s all-powerful politburo standing committee until 2012, will take place in October at the 18th session of the fourth plenum, a major date in the party calendar.

There has been no official announcement of an investigation into Mr Zhou, but he is believed to be under house arrest.

Rival factions

Xi Jinping

Earlier this week, the crackdown claimed its most senior catch to date as retired general Xu Caihou was stripped of his party credentials.

The People’s Liberation Army newspaper, the PLA Daily, said the military backed Mr Xu’s expulsion and said it “displayed the party’s firm resolve to fight corruption with an attitude of zero tolerance.”

Mr Xi is head of the central military commission and the move against Mr Xu shows a resolve to combat widespread corruption in the military as part of a broader effort to turn it into a modern fighting force.

Ji Wenlin, a former secretary to Mr Zhou, and Tan Hong, an official who worked in the public security bureau which Mr Zhou once ran, were expelled from the party for various acts of suspected corruption including bribery, according to the party’s central discipline inspection commission.

Party expulsions

Expulsions from the party in China typically come before formal prosecution, and the party said during the week that the latest cases would be handed to prosecutors.

The arrests this week indicate that the Chinese investigators are specifically targeting Mr Zhou’s network in the corruption crackdown.

Since Mr Xi made his pledge to root out graft 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, tens of thousands of officials have been arrested and he has taken some significant scalps.

The biggest is Bo Xilai, the former party boss in Dalian and Chongqing who is serving a life sentence for corruption and abuse of power, while his wife sits in jail for murder.