(UK Daily Mail) China is poised for its biggest corruption case since Mao Zedong’s widow went on trial for treason with the rest of the ‘Gang of Four’.
Former national security chief Zhou Yongkang – an ally of Bo Xilai, the top official jailed two years ago over the murder of Briton Neil Heywood – is accused of corruption and leaking of state secrets, Beijing prosecutors announced yesterday.
He is likely to be found guilty, and could be executed.
The all-powerful Chinese Communist Party has always been reluctant to admit to any high level wrongdoing, despite growing murmurs that the greed of officials has been running out of control while the economy has been ballooning in size.
So the move to announce charges against Zhou is being touted by official media as proof that the leadership is determined to take action – although some commentators argue that it is simply a sign of internal divisions and score-settling between factions in the party.
Officially, however, Zhou, 72, is the highest-level official charged as part of President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign that began in late 2012.
If the trial proceeds as expected he will be the most senior politician to face court since the sensational 1981 trial of Chairman Mao’s widow, his fourth and last wife Jiang Qing, and the rest of the ‘Gang of Four’ over claims they persecuted political opponents during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.
A useful side effect of the case will be that it will destroy for ever any hopes Zhou may have had of rivalling the party’s leadership.
China’s Supreme Court last month said in a report that Zhou and Bo Xilai had both engaged in political activities that damaged the unity of the ruling Communist Party.
The wording left it unclear whether the two were being accused of plotting together or separately.
But Zhou is charged with ‘huge’ bribe-taking, abuse of power and intentionally leaking state secrets.
Given his previous role as a security chief, there is scant sympathy for him.
The China director of Human Rights Watch, Sophie Richardson, said on Twitter: ‘Zhou Yongkang, pivotal in denying so many the right to a fair trial, won’t get one himself.’