07/15/2014, 00.00
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China, trial opens against Zhou Yongkang clique

To great media fanfare, China’s top prosecutor’s office announces criminal proceedings against three former senior government officials: two were protected by the powerful ex national security "czar". Increasingly insistent rumors of a possible arrest of Zhou, considered until two years ago the "most powerful and feared" politician in all of China.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Supreme People's Procuratorate, China's top prosecutor's office, said this morning that it has opened a criminal case against three senior officials.

Two of these are linked directly with Zhou Yongkang, the powerful ex national security "czar", long at the center of rumors of an "imminent" arrest for abuses and violations during his term in office. In a statement, the Supreme People's Procuratorate has said the 3 are guilty of corruption. "They are Li Dongsheng, Jiang Jiemin and Wang Yongchun: The first 2 were part of Zhou's inner circle.

The officials on trial had been removed from office and placed under investigation several months ago. Li, former deputy security minister, was removed from his post in February 2014 for "serious violations of discipline"; Jiang, head of the committee that oversees state-owned industries, had disappeared from the public eye in September 2013; Wang, a former senior executive of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), was fired in August 2013.

The initiation of criminal proceedings against them confirms the campaign against their former patron, for years at the top of both Internal Security as well as the CNPC, the government owned energy colossus.

Analysts and experts believe that all of these investigations, which are prominently featured in the national press, are an attempt to further isolate Zhou. In his years in power, he gave enormous powers to the organs of internal security and considerably increased the budget allocated to them. Until two years ago he was considered the most powerful and the most feared politician in China.

His fall from grace coincided with the coming to power of Xi Jinping and the "Fifth Generation" in March 2013. The new president and party chief said he wanted to fight "the tigers and the flies" , in other words corrupt officials at all levels. However, his campaign against bribery and degradation of national policy is increasingly appearing to be a "showdown" between the internal ranks of power, and not a real attempt to clean up corruption in China.


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