Former security czar Zhou Yongkang attends a hearing in the First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin in Tianjin, China, on June 11, 2015. (AP)Former security czar Zhou Yongkang attends a hearing in the First Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin in Tianjin, China, on June 11, 2015. (AP)

The son and wife of Zhou Yongkang, the disgraced Chinese Communist Party security boss, have recently been handed lengthy jail terms, according to Chinese state media.

On June 15, state mouthpiece Xinhua announced that Zhou Bin, the 44-year-old son, and Jia Xiaoye, the 47-year-old second wife of Zhou Yongkang, were charged with bribery and other crimes when the elder Zhou was in power.

Yichang Intermediate People’s Court in the central China province of Hubei sentenced Zhou Bin, a businessman, to 18 years jail, and fined him 350 million yuan (about $53 million). Jia Xiaoye, a former China Central Television journalist, was handed a 9-year prison term, and fined 1 million yuan (about $155,000). Both pleaded guilty.

Zhou Bin and Jia Xiaoye are the latest persons connected to Zhou Yongkang to be punished for leveraging the elder Zhou’s prominent position to enrich themselves.

According to Caixin, a Chinese financial publication, Zhou Bin had used his father’s political influence to build a sprawling billion-dollar commercial empire in China and abroad. He was arrested in December 2013, likely as part of preliminary investigations into Zhou Yongkang.

Little is known of Jia Xiaoye, Zhou Yongkang’s second wife. Caixin claims that Li Dongsheng, a former high-ranking security official, had introduced Jia to Zhou Yongkang in 2001 with hopes of winning political favor. Li was made deputy minister of public security two years after Zhou took over the regime’s security apparatus—even though Li had no background in the security system.

In recent years, Zhou’s close allies in the lucrative state oil sector, like Jiang Jiemin and Liao Yongyuan, and aides like Ji Wenli, have been investigated by the Party’s internal disciplinary agency, and later charged and handed long prison stints.

The Security Czar

When the stone-faced Zhou Yongkang became chief of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission—a small but powerful Party organ—and sat on the Politburo Standing Committee in 2007, he turned the regime’s security apparatus into his personal fief.

Zhou won a larger budget than that of the People’s Liberation Army, and soon became so influential that overseas Chinese press described him as a rival political center to that of then Party leader Hu Jintao.

Even after Zhou stepped down in 2012, his stamp lingers: Luo Yu, the son of revolutionary leader Luo Ruqing, described the present security apparatus as “Zhou Yongkang’s security system without Zhou Yongkang in it.”

Given his standing, Zhou was presumed by many to be safe from Party leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. But he was formally investigated in July 2014, and given a life prison sentence in June 2015, ostensibly for corruption and divulging state secrets.

Zhou, however, was guilty of more horrific crimes during his tenure as security czar.

In the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Zhou used the bloated police and paramilitary units to brutally suppress Tibetans, Uyghurs, house Christians, prisoners of conscience, and practitioners of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline.

Zhou has also been blamed by the Party’s own spokespeople for overseeing the forced organ harvesting of prisoners. The former deputy health minister, Huang Jiefu, made this charge in an interview with a pro-Beijing television broadcaster. Huang did not mention the widespread suspicion that prisoners of conscience, primarily practitioners of Falun Gong, have been slaughtered en masse for their organs. But he described the industry as “murky and intractable,” a potential hint that he was instructed to reveal that more was afoot than the mere use of death row prisoner organs.

Incidentally, the recent sentencing of Zhou’s son and second wife follows the passage of H.Res.343, in which the House of Representatives called for the Chinese regime to end forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners.

A similar sequence of events—whether coincidental or not is unclear—occurred in 2013 after the European Parliament passed a similar resolution to oppose forced organ harvesting in China. A little over a week after the resolution, Party investigators arrested Li Dongsheng, the man who introduced Zhou Yongkang to his second wife. At the time of his arrest, Li also headed the “610 Office,” an extralegal, Gestapo-like organization created for the express purposes of carrying out the persecution of Falun Gong.

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  • Category: General

Xu Jiatun, a 100-year-old, former elite Chinese Communist Party official turned defector, chooses his words carefully. In the two decades he has lived in exile—he defected after the June 4 massacre in 1989—he has only given a handful of interviews to Hong Kong media, and says little that’s worthy of a good headline.
After an emergency spell in a Los Angeles hospital, however, he appears to have thought it time to confide his musings and hopes for current Party politics in a well-known Hong Kong journalist.
Simon Kei Shek Ming, the 2009 winner of the prestigious Society of Publishers in Asia’s Journalist of the Year award, has had about a dozen informal interview sessions with Xu over the past eight years. Kei, formerly with the reputable Chinese language magazine Yazhou Zhoukan, connected with Xu in Los Angeles, and got the centenarian to share his thoughts on Party leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign.
Now, steps are being taken to go after bigger tigers.— Xu Jiatun

From the late 1970s to the 1980s, Xu held prominent positions in the Chinese regime: he was a member of the Communist Party’s elite Central Committee, governor of Jiangsu Province, and was the head of Party mouthpiece Xinhua in Hong Kong, the Party’s de facto presence in the then-British colony. He went into exile in the United States in 1990 because he opposed the Tiananmen Square massacre, and was expelled from the Party in 1991, after Jiang Zemin, leader at the time, got wind of the defection.
Somehow, Xu appears to remain a staunch believer in the Party, though has no kind words for the Party officials that effectively ruled from the time of his exile until recently. Xu resides in Chino Hill, Los Angeles.
“China, in 30 years of reform and opening, has unexpectedly achieved a level of development that the West only attained after 300 years of industrialization,” Xu told Simon Kei. The interview was published in The Initium, a new Hong Kong-based news website.
“However, Jiang Zemin and Li Peng placed their interests above all else during their reign,” Xu added. Jiang the former Party chief, and Li the ex-Chinese premier had “formed cliques, engaged in corrupt activities with their children, and bred streaks of tigers and swarms of flies everywhere in China.”
Xi Jinping coined the term “tigers and flies” at the start of his anti-corruption campaign in 2013 to reference venal and crooked elite and low-ranking officials.
There is basis for Xu’s critique of Jiang and Li, the inheritors and propagators of Party paramount Deng Xiaoping’s bureaucratic capitalism, or the use of political power for private, monetary gain.
Jiang had built up a sprawling political network during his time in office, and continued to influence Chinese politics for over a decade after relinquishing the position of Party leader. (He only gave up the military chair three years later.) Elder son Jiang Mianheng leveraged his father’s prestige to build up a telecommunications empire, while younger son Jiang Miankeng had a stranglehold on the transportation and public works industry in Shanghai.
Li Xiaolin, the daughter of former premier Li Peng, was for many years a state electricity mogul, and until last year, was the CEO of the Hong Kong-based China Power International, a subsidiary of one of China’s five biggest electricity companies. In 2015, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed that Li and her husband had a Swiss bank account with about $2.5 million, and the Panama Papers showed that Li owned an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands; offshore companies are often used as tax havens by the wealthy.
Conversely, Xu Jiatun holds Hu Jintao, Jiang’s immediate successor, and Hu’s premier Wen Jiabao in good esteem. In a 2008 interview with journalist Kei, Xu said that Hu and Wen, had, “in the face of disaster, showed ‘people-oriented’ governance by respecting the rights and values of the people, and embraced the philosophy of ‘serving the people.’”
“Not just me, but fair-minded people everywhere rated them highly,” he added.
He has similar regard for Xi Jinping.
“After the 18th National Congress, the Party leadership of Xi Jinping has not only cleaned up the ranks and restored China’s traditional national virtues, but also arrested tigers and flies,” Xu said. “Tigers have been arrested regardless of position or power, such as Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang, and Xu Caihou and Gu Junshan in the military; they have been purged, expelled from the Party, and dealt with in accordance with the law.”
Bo, Zhou, Xu Caihou and Gu Junshan all occupied important positions in the political web woven by Jiang Zemin.
Jiang had intended for former Chongqing chief Bo Xilai to take over Zhou Yongkang as security czar—and perpetuate Jiang’s control—at an important political conclave in 2012. The plan, however, was derailed when former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun outed a Bo and Zhou plot to eventually displace Xi Jinping as Party leader to the Americans when he tried to defect at a U.S. consulate in Chengdu.
When it came to the takedown of Jiang’s army designees, anti-corruption investigators had to bring in several trucks to haul away the ill-gotten loot accumulated by the late Xu Caihou, the former second-in-command of the Party’s military governing body, and Gu Junshan the former military logistics general.
Xu says it’s far from over.
“Now, steps are being taken to go after bigger tigers,” he told journalist Simon Kei.
Given how extensive the anti-corruption campaign has already been, there are only so many “bigger tigers” available to be removed. Perhaps the only men that fit this description are Jiang Zemin and his key henchman, former Chinese vice president Zeng Qinghong.
Last year, state mouthpiece People’s Daily published an editorial calling for Party elders to stop interfering in current political affairs, and the anti-corruption agency criticized a long-dead Manchu noble. Both were interpreted by observers as public warnings against Jiang and Zeng. A large stone stelae bearing the calligraphy of Jiang Zemin was also unceremoniously removed from the entrance to the Central Party School, the regime’s ideological training ground, in Beijing. (As the public engaged in heady speculation that it was

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China Business Journal reported on April 12 that the trial of former CCTV host Rui Chenggang and related cases would open soon. This report was quickly removed after major media in the country picked up the news.
Citing an unidentified core member within Jilin Province’s judicial system, China Business Journal reported that the hearing of the 29 cases involving CCTV, including that of Rui, are near.
However, the original report cannot be found on China Business Journal’s website now, and the reproduced versions on other mainland media have all been removed as well. This “now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t” phenomenon in the news sparked widespread discussion.
Prelude to Ling’s trial?
The fact that Rui, who was arrested in July 2014, has suddenly sprung into attention has caused speculation that this may be related to the case of Ling Jihua, former Vice Chairman of the National Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Recently, overseas Chinese media have released news of Ling on and off, claiming that his case would be open for trial in the near future. This led some analysts to speculate that the news about Rui’s case is a prelude to Ling’s trial.
When he was arrested, Rui was a relatively well-known host on the CCTV financial channel, but what really brought him into the limelight was his connection with Ling’s case.
Rui was arrested just when Ling, who was then Minister of the United Front Work Department, was in a precarious state. In September 2014, some online sources claimed that he was arrested for being a “foreign spy” who disseminated dark secrets of Premier Xi Jinping.
Ling was arrested on Dec 22 that year, but it is believed that he had already handed over a large quantity of confidential material to his brother Ling Wancheng, who escaped to the United States. Rui was also said to have a “special relationship” with Ling’s wife, Gu Liping.
In addition to Rui, another CCTV staff member, Guo Zhenxi, was arrested on May 31, 2014 under the charge that he was a crucial partner of the Youth Business Program (YBC) founded by Gu during Guo’s tenure as the director of CCTV’s financial channel.
Some analysts believe that Ling will be charged in the name of corruption as well, and the “corruption drama” of the CCTV management paves the way to his case.
Guo, who had always been regarded as a heavyweight in the government-controlled TV industry, worked in CCTV for 22 years. Earlier reports revealed that Guo, under the guise of his family and friends, set up umpteen companies under his charge, amassing assets worth at least 2 billion yuan over eight years as the director of CCTV’s financial channel.
According to Sina North America and other overseas Chinese media, after Guo was implicated by Rui and others, he revealed whatever information he had on Rui, including his collusion with Ling to form the “royal troops,” billion-yuan corruption, and intelligence service, all nailing his inevitable doom.
These reports quoted Zhongguo Mibao as stating that before the downfall of former Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai, Rui frequently bragged about his relationship with Bo’s son Bo Guagua, who often attended overseas activities with him.
Additionally, Rui was a close buddy of Yu Gang, secretary of former security czar Zhou Yongkang; Li Tong, the daughter of former Politburo Standing Committee member Li Changchun; Liu Leshan, the son of Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan; Zeng Wei, son of former Chinese Vice-President Zeng Qinghong; and others of the same camp.
Rui was also a debauched companion of Zeng Qinghuai, the brother of Zeng Qinghong, who controlled the CCTV Arts Channel from behind the scenes for over a decade.
In addition to the above personnel, several more CCTV management members were arrested in 2014, including the deputy director of the financial channel, Li Yong; the former director of the documentary channel, Liu Wen; and the former deputy director of the drama channel, Huang Haitao.
Some hostesses, whose identities were exposed by the media, were also summoned to assist in the investigation but were not detained.
On Dec 22, 2014, shortly after Ling was placed under investigation, CCTV financial channel producer Luo Fanghua, the wife of Gu Yuanxu. (Ling’s brother in-law), could not be contacted. According to Chongqing Morning Post, several staff members in the financial channel confirmed that the latter had been taken away by authorities.
Shortly afterward, Gu, who was then the deputy director of the Heilongjiang Province Public Security Department, was taken in for questioning.
Dark political secrets
According to China Business Journal, due to the unique position of the CCTV staff, many movie and TV stars were implicated in the series of cases. The investigation authorities summoned them for assistance while probing the case in Beijing, but most of them were not deeply involved.
The report categorically mentioned Li Dongsheng, the former deputy director of CCTV, claiming that the investigations focused mainly on his disciples. Also highlighted was his former position as the director of the “610 Office,” the organisation set up to persecute the spiritual practice Falun Gong.
Li, who fell from power in December 2013, was closely related to Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee and a member of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin’s faction. With no background in the public security system at all, Li was transferred to the Ministry of Public Security in 2009 to head the organization in charge of suppressing Falun Gong.
Li was favored by Zhou because he actively cooperated with the propaganda campaign to smear Falun Gong during his tenure in CCTV, while turning CCTV into a harem for high-ranking CCP officials. Female anchors of CCTV became his “tributes” to them, including Zhou, whose wife, Jia Xiaoye, is also regarded as a part of Li’s “sexual bribery” of his boss.
Meanwhile, CCTV, which holds the power to speak on behalf of the CCP, has become a power wrestling field for the top echelon of the CCP. Zhou’s lackey Li continued to control CCTV’s power to speak through personnel promoted by him, even after he was transferred to the Ministry of Public Security.
Ling, who was tied to Zhou in the

Read the full article here

China Business Journal reported on April 12 that the trial of former CCTV host Rui Chenggang and related cases would open soon. This report was quickly removed after major media in the country picked up the news.
Citing an unidentified core member within Jilin Province’s judicial system, China Business Journal reported that the hearing of the 29 cases involving CCTV, including that of Rui, are near.
However, the original report cannot be found on China Business Journal’s website now, and the reproduced versions on other mainland media have all been removed as well. This “now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t” phenomenon in the news sparked widespread discussion.
Prelude to Ling’s trial?
The fact that Rui, who was arrested in July 2014, has suddenly sprung into attention has caused speculation that this may be related to the case of Ling Jihua, former Vice Chairman of the National Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Recently, overseas Chinese media have released news of Ling on and off, claiming that his case would be open for trial in the near future. This led some analysts to speculate that the news about Rui’s case is a prelude to Ling’s trial.
When he was arrested, Rui was a relatively well-known host on the CCTV financial channel, but what really brought him into the limelight was his connection with Ling’s case.
Rui was arrested just when Ling, who was then Minister of the United Front Work Department, was in a precarious state. In September 2014, some online sources claimed that he was arrested for being a “foreign spy” who disseminated dark secrets of Premier Xi Jinping.
Ling was arrested on Dec 22 that year, but it is believed that he had already handed over a large quantity of confidential material to his brother Ling Wancheng, who escaped to the United States. Rui was also said to have a “special relationship” with Ling’s wife, Gu Liping.
In addition to Rui, another CCTV staff member, Guo Zhenxi, was arrested on May 31, 2014 under the charge that he was a crucial partner of the Youth Business Program (YBC) founded by Gu during Guo’s tenure as the director of CCTV’s financial channel.
Some analysts believe that Ling will be charged in the name of corruption as well, and the “corruption drama” of the CCTV management paves the way to his case.
Guo, who had always been regarded as a heavyweight in the government-controlled TV industry, worked in CCTV for 22 years. Earlier reports revealed that Guo, under the guise of his family and friends, set up umpteen companies under his charge, amassing assets worth at least 2 billion yuan over eight years as the director of CCTV’s financial channel.
According to Sina North America and other overseas Chinese media, after Guo was implicated by Rui and others, he revealed whatever information he had on Rui, including his collusion with Ling to form the “royal troops,” billion-yuan corruption, and intelligence service, all nailing his inevitable doom.
These reports quoted Zhongguo Mibao as stating that before the downfall of former Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai, Rui frequently bragged about his relationship with Bo’s son Bo Guagua, who often attended overseas activities with him.
Additionally, Rui was a close buddy of Yu Gang, secretary of former security czar Zhou Yongkang; Li Tong, the daughter of former Politburo Standing Committee member Li Changchun; Liu Leshan, the son of Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan; Zeng Wei, son of former Chinese Vice-President Zeng Qinghong; and others of the same camp.
Rui was also a debauched companion of Zeng Qinghuai, the brother of Zeng Qinghong, who controlled the CCTV Arts Channel from behind the scenes for over a decade.
In addition to the above personnel, several more CCTV management members were arrested in 2014, including the deputy director of the financial channel, Li Yong; the former director of the documentary channel, Liu Wen; and the former deputy director of the drama channel, Huang Haitao.
Some hostesses, whose identities were exposed by the media, were also summoned to assist in the investigation but were not detained.
On Dec 22, 2014, shortly after Ling was placed under investigation, CCTV financial channel producer Luo Fanghua, the wife of Gu Yuanxu. (Ling’s brother in-law), could not be contacted. According to Chongqing Morning Post, several staff members in the financial channel confirmed that the latter had been taken away by authorities.
Shortly afterward, Gu, who was then the deputy director of the Heilongjiang Province Public Security Department, was taken in for questioning.
Dark political secrets
According to China Business Journal, due to the unique position of the CCTV staff, many movie and TV stars were implicated in the series of cases. The investigation authorities summoned them for assistance while probing the case in Beijing, but most of them were not deeply involved.
The report categorically mentioned Li Dongsheng, the former deputy director of CCTV, claiming that the investigations focused mainly on his disciples. Also highlighted was his former position as the director of the “610 Office,” the organisation set up to persecute the spiritual practice Falun Gong.
Li, who fell from power in December 2013, was closely related to Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee and a member of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin’s faction. With no background in the public security system at all, Li was transferred to the Ministry of Public Security in 2009 to head the organization in charge of suppressing Falun Gong.
Li was favored by Zhou because he actively cooperated with the propaganda campaign to smear Falun Gong during his tenure in CCTV, while turning CCTV into a harem for high-ranking CCP officials. Female anchors of CCTV became his “tributes” to them, including Zhou, whose wife, Jia Xiaoye, is also regarded as a part of Li’s “sexual bribery” of his boss.
Meanwhile, CCTV, which holds the power to speak on behalf of the CCP, has become a power wrestling field for the top echelon of the CCP. Zhou’s lackey Li continued to control CCTV’s power to speak through personnel promoted by him, even after he was transferred to the Ministry of Public Security.
Ling, who was tied to Zhou in the

Read the full article here

China Business Journal reported on April 12 that the trial of former CCTV host Rui Chenggang and related cases would open soon. This report was quickly removed after major media in the country picked up the news.
Citing an unidentified core member within Jilin Province’s judicial system, China Business Journal reported that the hearing of the 29 cases involving CCTV, including that of Rui, are near.
However, the original report cannot be found on China Business Journal’s website now, and the reproduced versions on other mainland media have all been removed as well. This “now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t” phenomenon in the news sparked widespread discussion.
Prelude to Ling’s trial?
The fact that Rui, who was arrested in July 2014, has suddenly sprung into attention has caused speculation that this may be related to the case of Ling Jihua, former Vice Chairman of the National Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Recently, overseas Chinese media have released news of Ling on and off, claiming that his case would be open for trial in the near future. This led some analysts to speculate that the news about Rui’s case is a prelude to Ling’s trial.
When he was arrested, Rui was a relatively well-known host on the CCTV financial channel, but what really brought him into the limelight was his connection with Ling’s case.
Rui was arrested just when Ling, who was then Minister of the United Front Work Department, was in a precarious state. In September 2014, some online sources claimed that he was arrested for being a “foreign spy” who disseminated dark secrets of Premier Xi Jinping.
Ling was arrested on Dec 22 that year, but it is believed that he had already handed over a large quantity of confidential material to his brother Ling Wancheng, who escaped to the United States. Rui was also said to have a “special relationship” with Ling’s wife, Gu Liping.
In addition to Rui, another CCTV staff member, Guo Zhenxi, was arrested on May 31, 2014 under the charge that he was a crucial partner of the Youth Business Program (YBC) founded by Gu during Guo’s tenure as the director of CCTV’s financial channel.
Some analysts believe that Ling will be charged in the name of corruption as well, and the “corruption drama” of the CCTV management paves the way to his case.
Guo, who had always been regarded as a heavyweight in the government-controlled TV industry, worked in CCTV for 22 years. Earlier reports revealed that Guo, under the guise of his family and friends, set up umpteen companies under his charge, amassing assets worth at least 2 billion yuan over eight years as the director of CCTV’s financial channel.
According to Sina North America and other overseas Chinese media, after Guo was implicated by Rui and others, he revealed whatever information he had on Rui, including his collusion with Ling to form the “royal troops,” billion-yuan corruption, and intelligence service, all nailing his inevitable doom.
These reports quoted Zhongguo Mibao as stating that before the downfall of former Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai, Rui frequently bragged about his relationship with Bo’s son Bo Guagua, who often attended overseas activities with him.
Additionally, Rui was a close buddy of Yu Gang, secretary of former security czar Zhou Yongkang; Li Tong, the daughter of former Politburo Standing Committee member Li Changchun; Liu Leshan, the son of Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan; Zeng Wei, son of former Chinese Vice-President Zeng Qinghong; and others of the same camp.
Rui was also a debauched companion of Zeng Qinghuai, the brother of Zeng Qinghong, who controlled the CCTV Arts Channel from behind the scenes for over a decade.
In addition to the above personnel, several more CCTV management members were arrested in 2014, including the deputy director of the financial channel, Li Yong; the former director of the documentary channel, Liu Wen; and the former deputy director of the drama channel, Huang Haitao.
Some hostesses, whose identities were exposed by the media, were also summoned to assist in the investigation but were not detained.
On Dec 22, 2014, shortly after Ling was placed under investigation, CCTV financial channel producer Luo Fanghua, the wife of Gu Yuanxu. (Ling’s brother in-law), could not be contacted. According to Chongqing Morning Post, several staff members in the financial channel confirmed that the latter had been taken away by authorities.
Shortly afterward, Gu, who was then the deputy director of the Heilongjiang Province Public Security Department, was taken in for questioning.
Dark political secrets
According to China Business Journal, due to the unique position of the CCTV staff, many movie and TV stars were implicated in the series of cases. The investigation authorities summoned them for assistance while probing the case in Beijing, but most of them were not deeply involved.
The report categorically mentioned Li Dongsheng, the former deputy director of CCTV, claiming that the investigations focused mainly on his disciples. Also highlighted was his former position as the director of the “610 Office,” the organisation set up to persecute the spiritual practice Falun Gong.
Li, who fell from power in December 2013, was closely related to Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee and a member of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin’s faction. With no background in the public security system at all, Li was transferred to the Ministry of Public Security in 2009 to head the organization in charge of suppressing Falun Gong.
Li was favored by Zhou because he actively cooperated with the propaganda campaign to smear Falun Gong during his tenure in CCTV, while turning CCTV into a harem for high-ranking CCP officials. Female anchors of CCTV became his “tributes” to them, including Zhou, whose wife, Jia Xiaoye, is also regarded as a part of Li’s “sexual bribery” of his boss.
Meanwhile, CCTV, which holds the power to speak on behalf of the CCP, has become a power wrestling field for the top echelon of the CCP. Zhou’s lackey Li continued to control CCTV’s power to speak through personnel promoted by him, even after he was transferred to the Ministry of Public Security.
Ling, who was tied to Zhou in the

Read the full article here

A once powerful provincial head of China’s security and law agency, who had built up his career through a network of business and political ties and had a prominent hand in carrying out a nearly 17 year-long persecution of a spiritual discipline, has recently been purged.
On April 16, the Party’s disciplinary agency announced that Zhang Yue, security boss of Hebei Province, was placed under investigation for “seriously violating Party discipline,” though didn’t elaborate on his wrongdoings.  
Zhang was dubbed the “security czar of Hebei,” according to NetEase, a popular Chinese news portal that published a detailed investigation of Zhang’s dealings. NetEase also reported that Zhang, who enjoyed swimming, used public funds to pay for a luxurious swimming facility (or bath house) in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei. The female staff at the facility, NetEase said, were hired for their looks, like “flight attendants.” Only public security officials were at or above the ranking of deputy department chief were allowed to use the swimming complex.
Business and Political Connections
Zhang Yue’s business and political network extended deep into Beijing.
Zhang established ties with Guo Wengui, a powerful businessman whose influential business network provided its members with political and legal assistance nationwide. Guo himself reportedly had strong ties with Ma Jian, the former deputy chief of China’s Ministry of State Security, and Ling Jihua, the former chief of staff to ex-Party leader Hu Jintao and former head of the General Office, a key Party gatekeeping agency.
Together, Zhang, Guo and Ma worked together to mount a hostile takeover of China Minzu Securities in 2010, reported NetEase.
The scheme provides an insight into how security muscle in China can be used to make commercial competitors an offer they can’t refuse.
They went to work on two of Minzu Securities’ main shareholders: Capital Airports Holding Company, the largest, which held 61.25 percent, and Hebei Bank, the fourth largest shareholder, with 6.81 percent.
Zhang leaned on Hebei Bank’s government regulator—the Hebei Banking Regulatory Commission—and had them threaten to throw a Party leader working at the bank into prison, reported NetEase. In June 2010, the regulatory commission allowed Beijing Zenith Holdings, where Guo was the controlling shareholder, to buy up the bank’s shares in China Minzu.
Zhang Zhizhong, the president of Capital Airports, was easier to dispose of: he was sentenced to 12 years in prison by the Hengshui Intermediate Court. It is suspected, but not proven, that this was engineered as part of the takeover.
In January 2011, Capital Airports Holding Company sold all of its shares in China Minzu for 1.6 billion yuan (about $247 million), about 1.8 billion yuan (about $278 million) below market price, to Guo’s company. Beijing Zenith Holdings then became the biggest shareholder in China Minzu Securities.
Deals like this characterized the entrepreneurial activities of Zhang and his colleagues as they arbitraged their privileges in the public security and spy apparatus. But one of the key reasons that Zhang was able to obtain such unchecked power lies elsewhere.
Persecution
Zhang’s quick ascent up the political ladder was the result of his connection to former security czar Zhou Yongkang, according to NetEase. Zhou is known to have built his own career, which also saw a rapid ascent from a provincial leadership post to a central Party role running security, by doggedly following the orders of former Party leader Jiang Zemin. Zhou became one of the most infamous perpetrators of Jiang’s policy to hunt down and torture practitioners of Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese self-cultivation practice, teaches five slow-moving, meditative exercises, and exhorts living by the moral principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance. Threatened by the rapidly growing popularity of the practice through the 1990s, and its independence from the state, Jiang Zemin ordered a nationwide suppression of the group on July 20, 1999.
Before becoming the head of the Party’s security forces in Hebei, Zhang was chief of the “anti-evil cult” bureau, or the “610 Office,” from November 2003 to December 2007. The “610 Office” was responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong, according to Minghui.org, a clearinghouse of first hand information about the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
The 610 Office once held a privileged position in the Party, but its prestige has come under direct assault under Xi Jinping, with its former head, Li Dongsheng, sentenced to jail for 15 years in January this year.
Zhang Yue’s rise may also have been assisted by a personal connection. His second wife, Meng Li, was friends and colleagues with Zhou’s second wife, Jia Xiaoye, according to NetEase. Both Meng and Li had worked at the state-run broadcaster CCTV in years past, Meng as a host, and Jia as a journalist.
The persecution of at least 10 practitioners of Falun Gong is directly attributable to the orders of Zhang Yue, according to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, a New York-based nonprofit.
Li Zhiqin, a Falun Gong practitioner from Xingtai City in Hebei, died in police custody on Sept. 12, 2007, according to Minghui. Ningjin Police Department has since produced a fabricated document claiming that Li had died of severe heart attack, according to Minghui.
Liu Yongwang, a Baoding resident, was a chief electrical engineer at a foreign company in Beijing before he was subject to persecution at the Baoding Forced Labor Camp in 2001 after being kidnapped by police in Shanghai, according to Minghui. For three years, Liu experienced multiple forms of torture, including forced feeding, being whipped by leather belts and bamboo sticks, shocks with electric batons, and being tied to a bed board. In June 2006, Liu was again abducted by police and taken to Tangshan Jidong Prison.
Liu was released after finishing his 8-year sentence in August 2013. And in February 2016, he filed a lawsuit against Jiang.

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The aide of a purged Chinese security czar has recently been convicted and handed a lengthy jail term after a two-year investigation, another instance of final punishment for a member of a faction that has obstructed Chinese leader Xi Jinping from exercising full authority over the Chinese Communist Party.
Ji Wenlin, 50, was found guilty by Tianjin No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court on March 30 for taking kickbacks of 204.6 million yuan (about $31.7 million) for helping business groups and individuals obtain the national certifications necessary for doing business, as well as plum state funding, according to an announcement by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Chinese Communist Party’s internal disciplinary agency. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $1 million yuan (about $155,000).
Ji had carried out his illicit activities between 2000 to 2013 while he was the vice governor of the island province of Hainan and the mayor of its capital, Haikou. More prominently, Ji’s transgressions took place when he was the top aide to Zhou Yongkang, the former security czar.
Between 1998 to 2008, Ji Wenliwas the secretary, or “mishu,” for Zhou Yongkang, and had followed the latter as he transitioned from state oil magnate to various important government posts. Traditionally, the mishu of elite Party cadres are fasttracked to top positions, and Ji was no exception—from 2005 to the end of 2008, Ji held important portfolios like deputy director of the Public Security Bureau’s general office, and deputy director and secretary of the central stability maintenance work-leading small group.
The so-called stability maintenance apparatus was responsible for coordinating the suppression of Chinese dissidents and persecuted groups like house Christians, Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans, and practitioners of Falun Gong before and during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
Under Zhou Yongkang, the state security apparatus was handed a budget even greater than that granted to the People’s Liberation Army, and was regarded by many political observers as a power almost unto itself in the Chinese regime. Zhou also saw that former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin’s campaign to suppress Falun Gong—a traditional Chinese self-cultivation practice whose adherents do slow exercises and live by the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance—was expanded and perpetuated.
However, Zhou’s grip on power came undone in 2012, after he and co-conspirator Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing chief, were found to have attempted to engineer something like a putsch that would have displaced the incoming Chinese leader Xi Jinping. This conspiracy was unmasked after Wang Lijun, a former associate of Bo Xilai, attempted to defect at the United States Consulate in Chengdu.
When Xi took over the mantle of Chinese leader, he immediately launched an anti-corruption campaign, and began targeting many of Jiang Zemin’s allies and political clients. These included Zhou Yongkang. At least six of Zhou’s former secretaries, including former President of the Sichuan Federation of Literary and Art Circles Guo Yongxiang; Li Hualin, former vice general manager at PetroChina, China’s largest state-run oil company; Li Chongxi, the chairman of Sichuan Province’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference; and Ji Wenlin, were investigated for corruption and purged. Zhou himself was arrested in 2014 and handed a life sentence in June 2015.
The punishment of Ji indicates that the elimination of Xi Jinping’s rivals is ongoing. With increasing tension inside the Party, including open challenges to Xi’s authority almost certainly connected with this rival faction, the purge may also begin taking still more powerful scalps.

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China’s anti-corruption agency is investigating a Communist Party cadre who previously headed a police academy. Although the agency has not announced the reasons for its probe, the man had been identified to be a serial human rights violator by a U.S.-based non-profit organization.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) announced on March 22 that Du Min, the former Party chief of the Yunnan Police Officer Academy and former security chief in Kunming, a city in the southwest province of Yunnan, had been placed under investigation for “seriously violating Party discipline”—a byword for corruption—without further elaboration. Du’s last appointment in December 2015 was deputy director of Yunnan’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to China’s rubber stamp legislature.  
In his role as head of the internal security apparatus in Yunnan—the same agency controlled at the central level by the purged official Zhou Yongkang—Du Min was well-known for his persecution of those deemed enemies of the Party. This category includes dissidents, house Christians, practitioners of Falun Gong, among others.
Most information is known about Du’s role in the persecution of the latter group, given that it has been a major political priority of the Communist Party for over a decade.
The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, a human rights research and advocacy group based in the United States, points to a number of cases of egregious abuses against practitioners of Falun Gong at the time that Du Min was in charge—making him ultimately responsible for the torture that was administered.
Falun Gong, a self-cultivation practice whose adherents perform five sets of meditative exercises and closely follow the principles of truthfulness, compassion and forbearance, has been persecuted in China since July 20, 1999, under order from then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. Jiang had declared Falun Gong an ideological challenge to his rule because of its popularity and independence from state control.
As a result of the campaign, the regime’s security apparatus has for the past 16 years imprisoned, tortured, and forced Falun Gong practitioners to sit through forced brainwashing sessions. Over 3,900 practitioners have been killed, and hundreds of thousands others languish in labor camps, according to Minghui.org, a website that serves as a clearinghouse for information about the persecution. Researchers have also marshaled evidence which point to the Chinese regime’s role in forced organ harvesting of live Falun Gong practitioners; an estimated 65,000 practitioners were killed between 2000 and 2008 for their organs, though the real total may be much higher.
MORE:Investigative Report: A Hospital Built for Murder
Wu Yun, 43, a resident of Kunming City in Yunnan Province, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2010. She was sent to Yunnan’s Second Women’s Prison, where she was made to do 16 to 17 hours of forced labor per day. Prison guards would also force Wu to sit on a small stool from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and assigned two other prisoners to make sure she didn’t move or change position. It is unclear if Wu Yun has been released from prison.
Zhang Ruqiong, 51, another resident of Kunming, suffered gross abuse at the hands of local security officials. Her home was ransacked on Aug. 27, 2010, and she was held in Guandu District Detention Center without trial. After refusing to sign a statement renouncing her belief and for shouting “Falun Dafa is good, Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance is good,” security officials tied her to an iron ring that was embedded in the floor and shackled her with 20-pound weights.
“Her feet became swollen and infected and oozed pus, attracting many bugs,” according to an account of Zhang Ruqiong’s persecution on Minghui. After 20 days of abuse and torture, police released Zhang to a local hospital rather than have her die in custody. Police harassed Zhang and her husband when she was recuperating at home; unable to bear the pressure, Zhang’s husband asked for a divorce.
On Aug. 26, 2011, Zhang Ruqiong was officially put on trial. It is unclear what the outcome of the trial was, or Zhang’s present condition and whereabouts.

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Chinese authorities announced a major shuffling, and purge, of key personnel in the domestic security system in provinces around the country recently. The move was explained in the media in predictable terms: strengthening the rule of law and building a fair and professional legal system. A closer examination, however, shows that many of the men targeted had significant ties with Zhou Yongkang, the former head of the security system who now sits in prison.
That such significant personnel changes would still be taking place in 2016—over two years after Zhou was first formally put under investigation, and after several major rounds of reorganizations and arrests—seems to hint at the breadth of the political network of which he was a leading member.
The changes affected nine provinces—Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Guangdong, Hubei, Heilongjiang, Yunnan, Guangxi, Jiangxi and Qinghai—the two “autonomous regions” of Xinjiang and Ningxia, and the cities of Beijing and Shanghai: 14 new heads of courts and Procuratorates (China’s version of a public prosecutor, though it is also endowed with investigatory and other powers), and three new heads of public security bureaus took office, reported state-run media Legal Weekly on Feb. 17.
The most prominent changes took place in Zhejiang Province and Beijing, the former with the new chiefs of the provincial Supreme Court, Procuratorate, and Public Security Bureau, the latter with new presidents of the Supreme Court and the Procuratorate.
According to Legal Weekly, 8 of the 17 individuals were transferred to a new location. An example is Wang Zhengsheng, originally the head of public security in southwest Ningxia, who was moved to the same post in Qinghai, which is nearby. Of the 14 heads of courts and Procuratorates who stepped down, 11 resigned because they had exceeded 63 years of age. Age limits as exercised by the Party, however, are often flexible mechanisms for either excluding political enemies, or face-saving explanations for those on the losing end of a power struggle.
What is clear, however, is that many of those who resigned enjoyed close ties with Zhou Yongkang, named the head of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC) of the Communist Party in 2007.
The PLAC oversees China’s secret police, its domestic security and surveillance apparatus, most kinds of detention facilities—including prisons, labor camps, black jails, brainwashing centers—and judicial and prosecuting agencies. Its budget in recent years has exceeded $100 billion, making it, with the exception of the military, the most powerful bureaucracy in the country.
In June 2015, Zhou was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of receiving bribes, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.
The glue that bound Zhou to his own patron—the former Party leader Jiang Zemin—and unites many of the officials who have been removed recently, is their active roles in executing the signature political mobilization of the Jiang Zemin era: the persecution of Falun Gong. Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline that became popular in the 1990s, but was the target of an intense and violent suppression ordered by Jiang in July 1999. Political analysts at the time understood that Jiang was putting his stamp on the Party system by creating an enemy and forcing the Party to swear allegiance to him. He is known to have actively promoted those who were most committed to carrying out the campaign.
Chen Xu, who resigned as the top prosecutor in Shanghai, was named by the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, a human rights research and advocacy group, for crimes against Falun Gong practitioners.
Liu Liwei, who stepped down from his post at the head of public security in Zhejiang Province, was also highly active in pursuing anti-Falun Gong policies, according to Minghui.org, a Falun Gong website that acts as clearinghouse for first-hand reports from China. Liu was also the director of a provincial committee designed engender hatred toward Falun Gong in communities and villages, where Chinese would previously had performed the meditative exercises together in a park.
Mu Ping, the former head of high court in Beijing, recalled in a meeting how dishing out “punishment” to Falun Gong practitioners was one of his contributions to “stability” in China’s capital before the Beijing Olympics, according to Chinese news portal Sina in November 2008.  
In Guangxi, Luo Dianlong, the retired high court president, hosted a meeting in November 2011 on how the court should carry out Zhou Yongkang’s orders, reported the official website of Guangxi High Court. In a mid-year meeting, Luo spoke of how fighting the “heterodox religion” (i.e. Falun Gong) was a prerequisite for “maintaining social stability,” according to Chinacourt.org, a website established by the Supreme Court in China.
“For Xi’s administration, it’s necessary to purge the political and legal organs, because Jiang Zemin’s faction had created many different problems through these Party apparatuses,” remarked the independent political commentator Li Shanjian in an interview with the Chinese-language Epoch Times.
Zhou Yongkang’s rule of the security apparatus saw harsh methods of security enforcement expanded to broader groups in society, including petitioners, those who protest the forced demolition of their homes, and any who take action considered threatening by the Party, according to Li Shanjian. “This has resulted in a lot of anger among the people and has become a social time bomb.”

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The anti-corruption campaign of Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping is entering its fourth year. Tens of thousands of CCP officials having been investigated, and several of those who formerly were some of the most powerful men in China having been purged and convicted. On Jan. 12, the first high-ranking official of 2016 was convicted and sentenced.
News reports in the West of the conviction of former Vice Minister of Public Security Li Dongsheng focused on the 15-year sentence he received for bribery. But the coverage of Li’s trial in China revealed much more, suggesting the current leadership regards the persecution of Falun Gong to be the work of the faction loyal to Jiang Zemin.
From the beginning, the charges against Li Dongsheng for corruption have been tied to his role in persecuting Falun Gong.
The charges for corruption against former Public Security Vice Minister Li Dongsheng have been tied to his role in persecuting Falun Gong.

In December 2013, when the official website of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection announced the investigation of Li Dongsheng, it used three of his titles: vice head of the Central Leading Group for the Prevention and Handling of Cult-Related Issues; head of the office of the Leading Group, a.k.a. the 610 Office; and vice minister of Public Security.
That was the first time that Chinese authorities officially admitted the existence of the leading group and its 610 Office, which was established on June 10, 1999 by then Party leader Jiang Zemin to eliminate the spiritual practice of Falun Gong. The exposure of the name of that secret agency strongly suggested that Li Dongsheng’s real crime was somehow linked to it.
When Li Dongsheng was sentenced, the only title mentioned in the report by state news agency Xinhua was vice minister of Public Security, but on the same day the business magazine Caixin put Li’s crimes back in the context of his role in persecuting Falun Gong.
Li Dongsheng, former head of the secret police task force the 610 Office, in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Oct. 14, 2007. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
‘Sharp Weapon’
Caixin has played a special role in China over the last three years. It regularly publishes news that seems to come straight from inside Zhongnanhai, the Party’s leadership compound. Given its scoops on the anti-corruption campaign, the magazine is widely assumed to have a close relationship with the head of that effort, Wang Qishan. Caixin is also rumored to be close to Party leader Xi Jinping.
Caixin magazine has played a special role in China over the last three years. … It is also rumored to be close to Party leader Xi Jinping.

Caixin’s article bore the headline, “Zhou Yongkang’s Trusted Aide, Former Vice Minister of Public Security Li Dongsheng Sentenced 15 Years in His First Trial.” In 2009, Li was promoted to head of the 610 Office and vice head of the leading group, as well as to the position of deputy minister of Public Security. One paragraph mentions Li’s two titles related to persecuting Falun Gong, and then states that Li was formally promoted to be a high ranking ministry level official and thus became “Zhou Yongkang’s sharp weapon” in October 2009.
The phrase ‘Zhou Yongkang’s sharp weapon’ is very interesting.

The phrase “Zhou Yongkang’s sharp weapon” is very interesting. No law authorizes the persecution Li carried out. Instead, it is the Party’s political campaign. When Li Dongsheng took the positions in the leading group and its 610 Office, he should have been considered the weapon of the Party, not of Zhou Yongkang.
When Jiang Zemin started the campaign against Falun Gong, he was the paramount leader of the Party and the Party as a whole joined the campaign. During that period, Jiang and the Party were the same. Whoever in the Party leadership that did not actively join the persecution was the exception, and thus only represented himself or herself, not the Party.
When Jiang Zemin partially retired in 2002 and fully retired in 2004, there were subtle changes in how the Party was run that weakened the authority of Party head, increased the autonomy of individual Party leaders, and gave Jiang Zemin continued influence over the direction of the Party. The number of Standing Committee members of the Politburo—the most powerful body in the Party—increased to nine. The additional members were loyal to Jiang, and, combined with those incumbent members who were also loyal to him, gave Jiang a preponderant influence.
Zhou Yongkang, formerly the Chinese Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee member in charge of security, sits in a courtroom at the First Intermediate People’s Court of Tianjin in Tianjin, China, on June 11, 2015. Zhou was sentenced to life in prison. (CCTV via AP)
In addition to increasing the size of the Committee, Jiang decided that each member was only in charge of his own portfolio and nobody should have veto power over others. Luo Gan, and Zhou Yongkang, who replaced Luo in 2007, became the Standing Committee members charged with carrying out the persecution, and the new arrangements gave them a free hand.
The hidden message of the Caixin article referring to “Zhou Yongkang’s sharp weapon” is that Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, the top two leaders at the time, were not responsible for the persecution.
Conspiracy
In June 2015, Zhou Yongkang was sentenced to life in prison for three crimes: receiving bribes, abuse of power, and leaking state secrets. But these charges do not comprehend all of his crimes or even the worst of his crimes. His actual crimes may be divided into at least three parts: corruption, conspiracy against Xi Jinping (now alluded to in the official press as non-organizational political activities), and the persecution of Falun Gong and other religious groups.
Caixin’s article implies that Li Dongsheng’s corruption and persecution of Falun Gong were related to Zhou Yongkang. Does Caixin also imply Li was a weapon in Zhou’s conspiracy?
MORE:Huang Jiefu’s Sleight of Hand: Hiding the Organ Harvesting Taking Place in Plain SightDid the Chinese Regime Admit Torture?
In June 2012, Bloomberg published an exclusive exposé of the

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As the Chinese saying goes: “A large tree has deep roots.” This was demonstrated recently when Communist Party investigators announced that they had scored a victory in arresting a network of corrupt officials in the western province of Sichuan, all of whom enjoyed a common political patron: the former head of the Party’s vast internal security apparatus, Zhou Yongkang.
Zhou left office in late 2012, and was sentenced to life imprisonment this June after a lengthy corruption investigation. Observers of Chinese politics widely understood the takedown of Zhou Yongkang to have been inspired by his political rebellion from the Party leadership, rather than the actual (and substantial) corruption he engaged in.
The news that 13 of the 22 cadres recently investigated and removed from office in Sichuan were Zhou Yongkang’s men shows the longevity of political cronyism in China. The news also indicates how powerful officials, in their posts around China, are apt to build networks of personnel loyal to them, thus facilitating flows of money, power, and more relationships.
The most recent official to be purged in Sichuan was Li Kunxue on Nov. 24. He had served as deputy general secretary of the Communist Party branch in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan.
Rapid advancement in his career owed to his allegiance to Zhou, Chinese media reported, showing how during the three years of Zhou’s reign as Sichuan Party Secretary (1999 to 2002), Li was promoted from the secretary of a county-level Party Committee to the Party’s standing committee in Chengdu, and then to his current post in 2012, when Zhou Yongkang was head of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which controls China’s domestic security apparatus.
Zhou’s network of power across China is hard to estimate, but he seems to have developed and maintained loyalists wherever he went: in Sichuan, in the petroleum sector, and in the security system. According to Wang Dongming, general secretary of Sichuan Province, whose remarks were conveyed by Beijing News, Zhou has been “interfering with Sichuan’s political affairs for a long time and has had a severe impact on the local political ecology.”
Another official, Zhao Miao, a member of the Communist Party standing committee in Chengdu, who was taken down last year, also had a close relationship with Zhou’s family and friends, according to Beijing News, citing a source familiar with the situation. Zhao regularly greeted and entertained members of Zhou Yongkang’s family when they visited, the report said.
Apart from ties to Zhou Yongkang, 10 of the 22 fallen officials were also found to be cronies of Li Chuncheng, a key aide to Zhou who was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment this October. His crimes were “helping others gain illegal benefits, and causing great harm to public funds under the orders of Zhou Yongkang.”
The extent to which the loyalists networks of Zhou Yongkang and Li Chuncheng overlapped was not clear from the reports.

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The misspelling of Party leader Xi Jinping's name in a Fujian paper brought about serious consequences for two editors identified as responsible.The misspelling of Party leader Xi Jinping's name in a Fujian paper brought about serious consequences for two editors identified as responsible.

Within days of the announcement of a major Chinese Communist Party political meeting, the punishment of half a dozen high-level officials associated with the rival political faction was publicly announced.

The Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Congress of the CCP, as it’s called, looks to be a watershed for the regime leader, Xi Jinping, to further entrench his control over the Party apparatus.

Typically the fifth plenary session of a Party Congress is used to announce the next Five Year Plan, a relic of the communist planned economy. This year’s plenary session is also expected to include this—though much of the focus in the lead-up to it has focused on politics, and in particular personnel issues.

Leader Xi Jinping is increasing his control in the Party in the context of the session in two ways: investigating and eliminating the loyalists of the political clan that ruled China for nearly two decades before he came to power, and bringing in his own men.

It is well known that the former process has been underway since late 2012, when Xi came to the helm of the Party. The military, the security apparatus, the state-run petroleum sector, the official media, and other sectors have all been purged of prominent officials known to be affiliated with either Jiang Zemin or Jiang’s closest cohorts.

Jiang assumed power in the Party in 1989. While he formally stepped down in 2002, he retained immense influence in the Party for the next decade, analysts said. This was primarily through the individuals he had promoted through the ranks and inserted into the Politburo Standing Committee.

With the biggest players who had dominated the military and security services already removed, the eliminations now seem a matter of “cleaning out the dregs,” as some Chinese-language reports in publications outside of China put it–removing high-ranking officials who were not the top leaders in Jiang’s group.

Officials targeted include: Li Dongsheng, the former head of the Party’s secret police force, the 610 Office, whose trial opened on Oct. 14; Jiang Jiemin, Su Shulin, and Wang Yongchun, all former top officials in the lucrative petroleum sector, close loyalists to felled security czar Zhou Yongkang, and recipients of hefty prison sentences ranging from 13 to 20 years; Li Chuncheng, a former security cadre and deputy Party secretary of Sichuan, where Zhou served as Party secretary in the early 2000s. Li was jailed for 16 years; Guo Yongxiang, Zhou’s political secretary in Sichuan, who was jailed for 20 years; and Ji Wenlin, another Zhou protégé, whose trial also opened recently.

While little else is known about the personnel movements around the Fifth Plenary Session, the meeting has often been a forum for major personnel movements.

Speculation is consistent that Gen. Liu Yuan may receive a promotion. Liu, like Xi Jinping, is a so-called princeling, that is, the son of a revolutionary leader. Liu has also been a public supporter of Xi’s anti-corruption campaign in the military, and is believed to have provided some of the early intelligence used to remove Gu Junshan, a lieutenant general who headed the pork-barrel logistics department and was a protégé of Xu Caihou, one of two deputy heads of the armed forces who was since purged.

Chinese media report that since Xi Jinping has come to power, around 100 high-ranking officials—most with posts at least equivalent to that of a state governor in the United States—have been eliminated.

Zhang Zanning, a professor of law at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, said in a telephone interview with Epoch Times that the heavy sentences of these officials “are actually a fierce blow” by Xi Jinping to the overall political edifice constructed by Jiang Zemin, the former leader, and his followers.

Zhang referred to a recent series of leaks and coded messages in the Chinese press that also seemed to ridicule Jiang Zemin, and suggested that Jiang could likely become the final target for Xi Jinping’s purge. “Jiang’s crimes against humanity make one’s hair stand on end,” he said. “And Jiang’s family clan is the most corrupt in China.”

Rona Rui and Jenny Li contributed to this report.

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Chinese Communist Party Congress spokesman Li Dongsheng speaks at a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 14 October 2007. Li announced that the party's five-yearly Congress that begins 15 October, with a gathering of 2,213 delegates representing the party's 73 million members, will last one week finishing on 21 October. The Congress will be closely watched to see if a leadership reshuffle will see President Hu Jintao's successor emerge, setting the platform for him to take over as party chief and president following the next Congress in 2012. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)Chinese Communist Party Congress spokesman Li Dongsheng speaks at a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 14 October 2007. Li announced that the party's five-yearly Congress that begins 15 October, with a gathering of 2,213 delegates representing the party's 73 million members, will last one week finishing on 21 October. The Congress will be closely watched to see if a leadership reshuffle will see President Hu Jintao's successor emerge, setting the platform for him to take over as party chief and president following the next Congress in 2012. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

The former head of a secret communist police force has been put on trial in China, one of a series of high-profile punishments of top former officials with strong factional affiliations before an important Communist Party meeting.

The trial of Li Dongsheng began in the coastal city of Tianjin on Oct. 14, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. Li headed the 610 Office, a Communist Party task force created in 1999 to direct the campaign to “eradicate” the Falun Gong spiritual practice,

Li is being tried for abusing his power across a range of posts he held from 1996 to 2013 in exchange for the receipt of bribes. The official positions he abused, official reports said, include his role as deputy director of the Party mouthpiece China Central Television, as member of the Ministry of Public Security Communist Party Group, and as deputy Party secretary of public security, among other posts.

Abuse of Power

Li was also a member of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which directs the operation of China’s security forces.

In total he is said to have amassed nearly 22 million yuan ($3.4 million) over the years, though observers of China’s opaque politics usually regard such numbers as gross understatements. In exchange for cash, Li was said to have handed out promotions and done a range of other favors using his official positions.

Communist Party reports took the opportunity of the announcement of Li’s trial to portray him as a debauched drunk driver. Impugning the moral integrity of corrupt officials is often part of the regime’s anti-corruption campaign, as the fallen cadres are portrayed as aberrations from the Communist Party’s high standards of personal discipline.

“Whenever Li Dongsheng opened his mouth obscenities would spill out,” an unnamed CCTV colleague was quoted saying to Phoenix, a semi-official media outlet. “He often drank a lot, and very often drove while drunk,” the colleague continued. He was characterized as having a “fierceness” about his work at the broadcaster.

Li had few skills, but had a knack for “building up a political camp” and knowing which way the political winds were blowing, another colleague said.

Incitement of Hatred

This was most evident in Li’s extensive and meticulous propaganda work in the anti-Falun Gong campaign, in which China Central Television played a key part. Li is believed to be the mastermind of the hoax Tiananmen Square self-immolation incident, which took place in January 2001. Li’s propaganda work attacking Falun Gong is believed to have cemented his ties to the faction of Jiang Zemin, the then-head of the Chinese Communist Party.

Jiang’s campaign against the Falun Gong spiritual practice, a traditional discipline of meditation that had attracted 70 to 100 million adherents in China before it was persecuted, had stalled and was encountering resistance among the public and some parts of officialdom.

The immolation incident, in which Communist Party propaganda agencies appeared to demonstrate that a number of practitioners of Falun Gong set themselves aflame on Tiananmen Square, gave the Party a chance to reinvigorate the campaign.

Freedom House reports that “months of relentless propaganda succeeded in turning public opinion against the group. Over the next year, the scale of imprisonment, torture, and even deaths of Falun Gong practitioners from abuse in custody increased dramatically.”

The numerous inconsistencies and tight control over the event, added to the suspicious identity of the participants, led many observers to conclude that the entire episode was concocted for its propaganda effect. Philip Pan, a reporter with The Washington Post, reported that one of the participants “worked in a nightclub,” “took money to keep men company,” (behavior forbidden by Falun Gong’s teachings) and that none of her neighbours “ever saw her practice Falun Gong.”

Due to extensive controls over television, the CCTV program that crafted the original story, Focus Report, had some of the highest viewership ratings in China. Li Dongsheng had created the program in 1994, and in 2001 was a key player in anti-Falun Gong propaganda, with a seat in the propaganda department and a role in the censorship agency that oversaw CCTV.

One Among Many

The Communist Party is set to hold its 5th Plenary Session, an important political meeting held every year, within the next couple of weeks. The lead up to such events is typically filled with political speculation and horse trading.

And just before this year’s Plenary Session, Party leader Xi Jinping appears to have decided to unveil the harsh punishments of a number of officials that were in the political network of his rival, former Party boss Jiang Zemin. Jiang was Party leader from 1989 to 2002, though retained extensive control over elite politics through the following decade via the appointment of his own cronies at the top of the regime. It is this entrenched political network that has been the primary focus of Xi Jinping’s campaign of Party purges, branded as an anti-corruption campaign.

The other officials targeted before the meeting include Jiang Jiemin, Su Shulin, and Wang Yongchun, all former top officials in the lucrative petroleum sector, and close loyalists to felled security czar Zhou Yongkang, and Li Chuncheng, a former security cadre and deputy Party secretary of Sichuan, where Zhou served as Party Secretary in the early 2000s. These officials were given hefty prison sentences ranging from 13 to 20 years.

Guo Yongxiang, Zhou’s political secretary in Sichuan, and the former head of a Communist Party run non-governmental literary organization, was also sentenced to 20 years in prison for amassing vast sums in bribes.

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Chinese paramilitary police patrol the Great Hall of the People in November 2013. (Mark RalstonAFP/Getty Images)Chinese paramilitary police patrol the Great Hall of the People in November 2013. (Mark RalstonAFP/Getty Images)

Chinese media revealed the identity of the newly appointed chief of a Chinese communist secret police force recently, but within hours the news was deleted from all major websites.

The unusual report took place when Xi Jinping, the Party leader, was in the United States. There are indications that for the last three years he has been marginalizing the secret Party task force, called the 610 Office, which is in charge of the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice and other groups that the Communist Party considers its enemies.

It’s unclear whether the news of the recent appointment of Fu Zhenghua, the vice minister of public security, will change the institution.

A Secretive Task Force

The 610 Office is a secretive entity with sweeping and vaguely defined powers, often likened to the Chinese version of the Gestapo, the secret police of Nazi Germany. It was set up by former head of the Party Jiang Zemin on June 10, 1999 (the date from which its name is drawn) with the express purpose of carrying out the persecution of Falun Gong.

A high-level committee (The Leading Small Group for Handling the Falun Gong Problem) was also formed to oversee its work, headed up by some of the most powerful men in the country at the time. 

They don’t want this organization at the center of any policy. They don’t want to mention this office in public.

— Xia Yiyang, Chinese security researcher

Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritual practice that teaches the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, and includes slow-moving meditative exercises. It had attracted between 70 million and 100 million practitioners in China by 1999, according to official and Falun Gong sources.

Li Dongsheng, former head of the 610 Office,  in Beijing, October 2007. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Li Dongsheng, head of the 610 Office, in Beijing, in October 2007. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

The campaign against it has been one of the most ferocious security mobilizations in recent Chinese history, involving beatings, mass incarceration, and torture aimed at having Falun Gong adherents renounce their beliefs and pledge loyalty to the Party, according to human rights researchers. Directing that effort has been the 610 Office.

Leadership of the agency had always been shrouded in secrecy. But since Xi Jinping’s ascension to power, two major announcements seemed to indicate that it was being sidelined in the Party structure.

Publicity Shy

When Li Dongsheng, a crony of the former security czar Zhou Yongkang, was purged in December 2013, his title as director of the 610 Office was prominently displayed. Those paying attention knew the office no longer had a leader.

Liu Jinguo assumed the post in January of 2014, though nothing was stated in the media until much later in the year. It was then announced that he had been appointed second-in-command of the Party’s internal investigatory agency, an intensive role that indicated his energies would not be devoted to his 610 work. In May of 2015 the news that Liu was no longer head of the 610 Office was publicized prominently by major mouthpiece media, including People’s Daily. The successor was not known until now, and it’s unclear when Fu Zhenghua began the job.

Both of these gestures were, strictly speaking, quite unnecessary, said Xia Yiyang, a senior director at the Human Rights Law Foundation, whose work focuses on tracing the operations of China’s security apparatus.

“The reports had political motives. There was no need to expose Li Dongsheng’s title. When that was done, a signal had been sent. After that, Liu Jinguo was kept relatively low key,” he said in a telephone interview. 

It’s a signal that the 610 Office is continuing as a Chinese Communist Party entity persecuting Falun Gong and other religious groups.

— Sarah Cook,senior research analyst for East Asia, Freedom House

It had appeared for a period earlier this year the 610 Office had no leadership—at least, no new leader was announced. And it seemed the intention of Communist Party leader Xi Jinping to keep it that way, given the manner in which the recent reports were so quickly deleted.

Fu Zhenghua’s new position was reported by the Xinjiang Daily, in an article listing the 69 delegates from Party Central who attended a ceremony celebrating the 60th anniversary of the PRC’s control over the Xinjiang region, populated by the Uyghurs, a Turkic, Muslim people.

Reports were then recirculated on mainland Web portals, such as Sina, Phoenix, and The Paper—but within hours the news was purged from all of them. And the news did not appear in the authoritative media People’s Daily or Xinhua, reliable bellwethers of central policy.

Whether the initial report was intentional or not is also in question. Xia, the researcher, outlined two possibilities: One, the factional—that those who have a stake in the persecution of Falun Gong, and the future of the 610 Office, saw to it that Fu Zhenghua’s title was publicized. The other is that it was simply an accident.

It was clear, though, that unlike the previous publicity associated with the 610 Office, playing up the agency “is not the intention of the current leadership,” Xia said. “They don’t want this organization at the center of any policy. They don’t want to mention this office in public.”

Optics and propaganda aside, there are both institutional and personnel considerations related to Fu Zhenghua’s appointment.

Fu the Turncoat

Fu’s background is firmly in the camp of Zhou Yongkang, the purged former security boss, and he has over the years been heavily involved in the anti-Falun Gong campaign—for example, in his role as head of the Beijing public security bureau. 

But when it came time for Xi Jinping to eliminate Zhou Yongkang, Fu quickly became turncoat, according to widely quoted rumours in Hong Kong-based media outlets. This spared him the fate of his previous patron, according to those accounts.

Fu Zhenghua, the new head of the 610 Office, in an undated photograph. (freeweibo.com)

Fu Zhenghua, the new head of the 610 Office, in an undated photo. (freeweibo.com)

At the same time, Fu, like his immediate but short-lived predecessor Liu Jinguo, was an outsider to the 610 Office system. The other individual under consideration for the post, according to Xia Yiyang, was Chen Zhimin, currently the deputy minister of public security and the former head of the feared Domestic Security Department (“guobao”). “The operations of the 610 Office are very specific,” Xia said. “It’s not that anyone can take over and carry out the same policies as an insider.”

The appointment of two successive outsiders to the agency in short order, rather than the promotion of a 610 stalwart that constituted its previous leadership (such as the officials Wang Maolin, Liu Jing, or Li Dongsheng), is also an indication of the attenuation of its institutional clout, Xia indicated.

The broader framework for analysis about the continuing role of the 610 Office is its association with the political program of former leader Jiang Zemin, who has become the chief factional rival to Party leader Xi Jinping since the latter took power in late 2012. All of the senior Party officials to be purged in Xi’s Party rectification campaign were, if not specifically appointed by Jiang, known to be his loyalists.

‘Path Dependence’

But bureaucratic resistance to major changes in the configuration of the sensitive security forces may, for now, be preventing a genuine extension of Xi Jinping’s purge to the 610 Office. Any such change would also likely need to be accompanied by a shift in the policy of persecution of Falun Gong, which then becomes a sensitive and thorny political question.

In a recent journal article in China Quarterly, scholars Caylan Ford and Stephen Noakes use a theory of “path dependence” to explain how, after devoting massive resources in the pursuit of the fruitless persecution of Falun Gong, there has been “sufficient institutionalization of the suppression campaign to make the costs of its reversal or sudden conclusion unacceptably high.”

The appointment of Fu Zhenghua appears to be an expression of this path dependence, analysts said.

“It’s a signal that institutionally the 610 Office is continuing to survive as a Chinese Communist Party entity persecuting Falun Gong and going after other religious and spiritual groups targeted by the Communist Party,” said Sarah Cook, a researcher of China at Freedom House and the co-author of an analysis of the operations of the 610 Office.

While Fu Zhenghua’s appointment may not signal an intent by central authorities to reinvigorate the persecution of Falun Gong, confirming who heads the 610 Office could, at least temporarily, lead to increased persecution at the grass-roots level.

“If you had a situation where officials were not sure what the future status was going to be, it gave a little bit more space for uncertainty for local security personnel who didn’t want to implement orders,” Cook said. “Potentially now that space could close. It could be another level of consolidation of the 610 Office.”

Correction: An earlier version of the article indicated that Li Lanqing was the first director of the 610 Office. The first director of the 610 Office was actually Wang Maolin. Li Lanqing was the first leader of the Central Leading Group for Dealing with the Falun Gong Problem, whose sole executive agency is the 610 Office.

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