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China: Crackdown On High-Level Corruption

Prosecutors charged former national security chief Zhou Yongkang with corruption and leaking of state secrets, setting the stage for him to become the highest-level politician to stand trial in China in more than three decades.

The Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced the long-expected indictment on its website in March 2015 after a lengthy investigation that also scrutinized Zhou’s former allies in government and the oil industry, but gave no new substantial details of the accusations against him.

A former member of the Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, the dour-faced and once-feared Zhou had been under investigation since late 2013 and has been unavailable for comment since then.

“Announcing the charges against him means the beginning of the end for Zhou,” said Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, reflecting the widely held notion that Zhou’s conviction was virtually assured.

Zhou, 72, is the highest-level official charged as part of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign that began in late 2012. He would be the highest politician to face court since the 1981 treason trial of Mao Zedong’s wife and other members of the “Gang of Four” who persecuted political opponents during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

Although the case against Zhou has been touted by state media as showing the party’s determination to fight corruption regardless of one’s rank, it also has been widely perceived as part of factional politics in the ruling party’s uppermost echelon and the removal of a potential rival for Xi.

“Corruption commonly exists among the party’s senior officialdom, and so it looks like Zhou is another example of being the loser of a power struggle,” said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based commentator and historian.  The Associated Press

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