BEIJING (AP) — An influential Hong Kong newspaper reported Friday that China’s top leadership has agreed to start a corruption investigation into Zhou Yongkang, a former security czar and one of the country’s most powerful politicians of the past decade.
Quoting sources “familiar with the leadership thinking,” the South China Morning Post said China’s current and retired top leaders endorsed the decision in early August to investigate Zhou, who oversaw China’s judicial system and served on the Politburo Standing Committee, the apex of political power.
No Politburo Standing Committee — incumbent or retired — has been investigated for economic crimes since the 1980s.
Zhou also is known to have been a strong ally of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, who stood trial this past week on charges of taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power and is awaiting a verdict. Before Bo’s fall, it was widely believed that Zhou was supporting Bo’s bid for a seat on the Standing Committee and to become his successor.
Zhou is widely associated with a policy to maintain social stability at all costs, using the state power to suppress voices of social critics and political dissidents.
SCMP said the investigation, rumored for months, is focusing on oilfield and property deals that have benefited Zhou and his family.
There has been no mention of the investigation in China’s state media.