Beijing (AsiaNews ) - The Supreme People's Procuratorate this morning announced the opening of a formal investigation against Li Chuncheng, deputy head of the Communist Party in Sichuan and close associate of the former "national security tsar" Zhou Yongkang. It is the latest in a series of arrests that are targeting high profile national figures linked to Zhou: analysts and experts believe that the central government is also preparing an investigation against him, a former member of the Politburo and one of the most powerful men in all of China.
The announcement of the investigation against Li was released a day after his expulsion from the Communist Party. However, Li's fall from grace began in 2012 , when he was under investigation for " violations of party discipline", a euphemism for bribery and corruption. His rise began in 2001, when Zhou was head of the Party of Sichuan and Li was mayor of Chengdu.
Since Xi Jinping came to power in March of 2013 , the government has ordered the arrest of 21 high-ranking officials. Of these, at least six were part of the group loyalists linked to Zhou. On February 19 it was Ji Wenlin's turn. He had been the right hand man of the powerful former minister of national security for over ten years: others who have ended up in jail ahead of him include Guo Yongxiang, former vice governor of Sichuan, and Li Dongsheng, former Deputy Minister of Public Security. On 20 February it was the turn of Liu Yingxia , known as "China's most fascinating businesswoman" who was arrested for corruption because of her relationship with Jiang Jiemin, at one time president of the China National Petroleum Corp and Zhou loyalist.
On March 3, 2014 Yongkang's brother Zhou Yuanqing's arrest was confirmed as well as that of his wife Zhou Lingying. The two were arrested December 1, 2013 as part of "a disciplinary investigation by Beijing". The woman is charged with having exploited her relationship with the head of national security in order to obtain contracts in favor of the China National Petroleum Corp. In addition, according to local media , "she had a lot to do" with Zhou Bin, Yongkang' son also under investigation. On April 14, 2014 it was the turn of Zhao Miao - Head of the Department for Party organization in Chengdu - and Yan Cunzhang, manager of the Department for cooperation of the state oil giant China National Petroleum Corp. Both are charged with " discipline violations".