Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) launched a formal inquiry against Ji Wenlin, who for ten years was the right hand man of Zhou Yongkang (pictured), China's former national security czar.
The Communist Party's powerful and much feared anti-graft watchdog, which can remove any official (except for Politburo members), has accused Ji of "serious disciplinary violations," a euphemism often used in cases of corruption or malfeasance or as a justification for party purges.
According to several Hong Kong analysts, this inquiry is the last crackdown against the group linked to Zhou, who is the real target in President Xi Jinping's house cleaning.
Under Hu Jintao's administration, Zhou was the undisputed boss in campaigns of political repression and economic attacks on opponents. During the tenure of the party's top inquisitor, internal security agencies saw their budgets grow.
For Willy Lam, an expert in Chinese politics, Zhou in fact "invented modern repression in China."
Under Hu's ten-year leadership, Zhou played a more central role, but one criticised by civil society groups. Wielding unlimited powers, he was also able to introduce some of the most repressive measures in the history of modern China.
During his tenure, public security got more money and powers than ever, and the legal system was changed so that police could detain anyone (without a court order) for up to six months.
His reforms have allowed the persecution of religious leaders, human rights activists and dissidents with impunity.
Other former Zhou aides under investigation for corruption include Guo Yongxiang, a former deputy Sichuan governor, and Li Dongsheng, a former vice-minister of public security.
Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University, said authorities still appear to be trying to gather evidence on Zhou and it is unclear when the findings would be announced.