04/14/2014, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing: two more Zhou Yongkang cronies arrested

For experts and analysts, the government is trying to rid itself of former powerful "national security czar." Zhao Miao and Yan Cunzhang, two of his associates, are the latest victims, both accused of corruption. For one observer, a "power struggle" is underway.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Chinese authorities ordered the arrest of two more powerful Communist officials linked to former "national security czar" Zhou Yongkang.

After a decade in charge of China's police and paramilitary forces, the latter appears to be target of an ongoing crackdown. So far though, he has been formally charged.

Zhao Miao, head of Communist Party's organisation department in Chengdu (Sichuan), and Cunzhang Yan, manager of the Foreign Co-operation Department of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), have been latest to be caught up in the current crackdown.

Both have been charged with "serious violations of discipline," a euphemism commonly used in cases of corruption within the state-party apparatus.

Since Xi Jinping came to power in March of 2013, the government has had 21 high-ranking officials arrested, at least six of them members of the Zhou group.

Ji Wenlin was arrested on 19 February. For ten years, he was Zhou's right hand man. Before him, former Sichuan Deputy Governor Guo Yongxiang and former Deputy Public Security Minister Li Dongsheng had also been arrested.

On 20 February, it was Liu Yingxia's turn. Known as "China's most fascinating entrepreneur," she was arrested for corruption because of her relationship with Jiang Jiemin, a former president of the China National Petroleum Corp and another Zhou loyalist.

On 3 March 2014, Zhou Yongkang's brother Yuanqing and the latter's wife Lingying were also arrested. The two had come under "disciplinary investigation by Beijing" on 1 December 2013.

Zhou's wife had used her relationship with the national security chief to obtain contracts on behalf of the China National Petroleum Corp.

Local media have reported her involvement with Zhou Yongkang's son Bin, who is also under investigation.

For Zhang Lifan, a political analyst in Beijing, the authorities are still building a case against the former national security chief.

"It's very likely that the investigation against Zhou is still inadequate, or is facing obstruction," he said.

Indeed, "Why hasn't his case been made public after so long? A power struggle might be one reason, and the other could be insufficient evidence."

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