China Ex-Security Chief Indicted on Corruption Charges

China Ex-Security Chief Indicted on Corruption ChargesChina Ex-Security Chief Indicted on Corruption Charges

China’s former security boss Zhou Yongkang has been formally charged 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 long-expected indictment, announced Friday by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate on its website, followed a lengthy investigation that also had scrutinized Zhou’s former allies in government and the oil industry, AP reported.

Zhou, a former member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, had been under investigation since late 2013.

Zhou is the highest-level official charged as part of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign that began in late 2012. Zhou would be the highest politician to stand trial since the 1981 treason trial of Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing, 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 an example of 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 procuratorate said Zhou was being charged with bribe-taking, abuse of power and intentionally leaking state secrets. It characterized the allegations against him as especially severe, and said he took “huge amounts” of bribes, but gave no details of the accusations.

It is unclear how open Zhou’s trial will be, or when it will take place. However, the trial of another high-profile politician targeted in the crackdown, Bo Xilai, came about a month after his indictment in July 2013.

The charge against Zhou of leaking state secrets could provide a reason for authorities to close the trial, or at least part of it, and avoid the possible disclosure of political infighting at the party’s highest levels.