Given that Zhou is the highest-ranking Chinese Communist Party official to be formally investigated in decades, this is big news, but it was done quietly by Beijing.
According to state-run media, 72-year-old Zhou was found guilty of corruption, abuse of power, and the revealing of state secrets in a closed door trial held in the northern city of Tianjin on May 22. His family’s assets have also been seized, and we’re talking billions of dollars here.
The above video gives you a very brief outline of the sentencing.
Prior to his arrest in late 2013, Zhou was one of the most powerful men in the Chinese Communist Party.
From 2007 to 2012, he was the head of the Political and Legislative Affairs Commission (PLAC), while also being a member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.
As head of the PLAC, it meant Zhou oversaw the regime’s massive security apparatus, which included the paramilitary People’s Armed Police, which had over a million men. His budget was for a time bigger than the amount given to the military.
As governor of Sichuan (1999-2002), Zhou had already shown his willingness to come down hard on Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners. He then became the Minister of Public Security in December 2002, and the First Political Commissar of the People’s Armed Police.
Part of his rise was also due to his allegiance to former Party leader Jiang Zemin, who stepped down from his position in 2002, but whose network remained strong within the Party’s apparatus. Somewhere along the line, Zhou also married Jiang’s niece, a woman 28 years his junior.
The persecution of meditators
It was an active policy of Jiang to favor those who had ardently carried out his personal campaign against the millions of peaceful Falun Gong practitioners since 1999.
Among those Party officials who also assisted Jiang was Bo Xilai, whose father, Bo Yibo (one of the so called Eight Elders of the Communist Party of China), had earlier helped Jiang obtain the Party leadership way back in 1993.
As governor of Liaoning Province, Bo was also brutal in following Jiang’s orders related to Falun Gong. That is why there have been over 10 lawsuits filed against him by Falun Gong practitioners living overseas about torture and crimes against humanity.
Investigative reporter Ethan Gutmann also said that Bo’s Liaoning Province was the epicenter of the killing of Falun Gong practitioners for their bodily organs. Gutmann believes that around 60,000 people have been murdered through the secretly state-sanctioned organ harvesting.
Given Zhou’s position as security tzar, he must also have blood on his hands for this massive crime against humanity.
Even after Jiang stepped down, the former leader maintained a large level of influence in the Party through his network of cadres, which included both Zhou and Bo, whose last position was Party chief of Chongqing .
While Hu Jintao’s 10 years as paramount leader were constrained by Jiang’s meddling, when Hu stepped down in 2012, factional plotting began in earnest.
Sources inside China say that both Bo and Zhou were scheming a coup against current leader Xi Jinping so Bo could become Party leader.
How much of the plot was enacted or planned is unknown at present. Either way, the wheels of Bo’s and Zhou’s aspirations fell apart when Bo’s former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun tried to defect to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February 2012.
Wang was Bo’s enforcer until the two are believed to have fallen out over a number of issues, with Bo’s wife’s murder of a British businessman Neil Heywood believed to be one of them.
After the U.S. handed Wang over the central authorities, it is believed that Wang informed Beijing of Bo and Zhou’s intent to gain power. Not long after that, Bo was stripped of power.
Xi’s so-called anti-corruption campaign
While it was the Heywood murder and other charges that gave the Party enough public reasons to send Bo to jail for life in 2013, it was always going to take some time for Xi to take down Zhou.
Before his sentencing last month, Xi had steadily attacked Zhou’s supporters in the energy sector. Jiang’s network in the military and telecom industry also began to be picked off by Xi’s “tigers and flies” corruption campaign.
As Xi’s campaign continues to take out Jiang’s network, eyes are now on former Vice Premier and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee Zeng Qinghong, and maybe even Jiang himself. Where it ends up is anyone’s guess. It’s not just ending with Zhou.
For more information on Zhou, see below: