The news coming out of China on Thursday, June 11, has confirmed that the ex-security chief of the Chinese domestic surveillance organization has been handed a life sentence behind bars for bribery, abuse of power, and intentionally sharing national secrets. A probe, which was conducted on July 29, 2014, revealed that Zhou had committed “serious discipline violations” until his retirement in 2012, causing a media stir and prompting protest amongst Chinese citizens.
The trial was conducted behind closed doors, something the ex-chief had preferred, following his secretive personality. It was reported that $20 million was received in bribes, with most of the money being taken by his wife Jia Xiaoye and son, oil and gas executive, Zhou Bin. It is said that Zhou made his family give the money back from the bribes, in which the court returned a favor by giving a lenient punishment, oppose to the maximum punishment for bribery, which is death. Also, there are the charges involving abuse of power; these accusations include him instructing officials under him to assist his family members, along with others, in acquiring 2.1 billion yuan (USD $336,000,000) in illegal earnings, as well as handing over six classified documents to a businessman Cao Yongzheng. These abuse of power charges each carry up to seven years in jail.
There are questions remaining to be answered for the personnel under Zhou, who in his heyday was at the top of a number of Government institutions. These positions include Secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the party’s Central Committee from 2007-2012, Vice Minister of the Petroleum Industry 1985-1988, Minister of Land and Resources in 1998-1999, and Sichuan Party boss in 1999-2002. In 2002, he was appointed Head of the Ministry of Public Security followed by being made a member of the Politburo’s standing committee in 2007. The sentence of life behind bars for bribery handed to Zhou shows how the new look National People’s Congress seeks to conduct business.
This investigation sends a clear message of the reign under Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China who holds the three offices as China’s paramount leader. Xi was earlier quoted in saying that he promises to crack down on both “tigers and flies”, meaning a person of all levels in his fight against corruption. This resonated with citizens, who now label him as the most powerful leader, since Mao Zedong.
In his final statement, though, Zhou said that the facts were clear leaving him only to plead guilty and repent of his wrongdoing. He explained that those involved, who bribed his family, were seeking to take the power in his possession and of this he takes full responsibility. He went on to add that he broke the law and rules of the Party, agreeing that the evidence of his crimes have resulted in great loss for the nation.
He went on to state that the handling of his case was in agreement with Party rules, and the law showed the authorities’ resoluteness to rule the nation by advancing the rules of law. The remaining bunch, who are yet to be punished which includes Zhou’s son Zhou Bin, Li Dongsheng, Li Hualin, Guo Yongxiang, Ji Wenlin, Jiang Jiemin, and Li Chuncheng are faced with the same punishment for bribery as Zhou, of life behind bars or worst, death.
By Andrew Joseph
Wall Street Journal: 5 Things About the Fall of Zhou Yongkang
South China Morning Post: China ex-Security Chief Sentenced to Life in Prison, Will Not Appeal
Business Insider: The Ultimate Sign of President Xi Jinping’s Total Power Over China
BBC: China Corruption–Life Term for ex-Security Chief
Photo courtesy of SFT HQ’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Photo courtesy of Joseph Kranak’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License