China arrests former security chief Zhou Yongkang over graft charges

Chinese authorities have arrested former chief of domestic security, Zhou Yongkang, on charges of bribery. Zhou is soon to stand trial.

Zhou Yongkang

Zhou Yongkang, 72, was arrested by Chinese officials on Saturday. He was charged with adultery, bribery and leaking state secrets, reported China’s official news agency, Xinhua. The Communist Party also expelled Zhou, paving the way for his criminal prosecution.

“The investigation found that Zhou seriously violated the party’s political, organisational and confidentiality discipline,” Xinhua quoted the Communist Party’s Politburo as saying, and added that Zhou “abused his power to help relatives, mistresses and friends make huge profits from operating businesses, resulting in serious losses of state-owned assets.”

The statement also said that Zhou “committed adultery with a number of women and traded his power for sex and money.” Adultery is not illegal in China, but officials said in June that officers guilty of affairs “could be removed from their posts or stripped of party membership.”

A former member of the Politburo, Zhou is the most senior official of the Communist Party to be investigated since the 1980 trial of China’s communist leader and revolutionary Mao Zedong’s wife and other members of the “Gang of Four” who were tried in the 1980s for treason and for persecuting political opponents during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976.

President Xi’s latest target

Zhou’s arrest and an investigation into his alleged wrongdoings are the latest in a series of government crackdowns on corruption. President Xi’s targets have included Bo Xilai, former head of the southwestern city of Chongqing and a close ally of Zhou, who was charged with amassing vast wealth at the expense of the state and was sentenced to life in prison last year.

In July, Xi ensnared Xu Caihou, former vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission and member of the Politburo. He was one of the first members of the Communist Party’s central decision-making body to be caught in Xi’s net.

Xi has promised to rid China of graft and has vowed to go after political heavyweights as well as officials in lower ranks accused of bribery.

mg/se (AP, AFP, Reuters)