Fu Zhenghua, China’s Former Justice Minister and Head of Infamous ‘610 Office’, Is Purged

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Fu Zhenghua in a file photo. (Image: File photo via Sina)

On Oct. 2, the Chinese Communist Party’s disciplinary committee announced an investigation into Fu Zhenghua, the official best known for his long career in the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). He had also served as justice minister between 2018 and 2020. 

Fu, currently serving as deputy director of the Social and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), is suspected by the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of “serious disciplinary violations.” 

Prior to becoming justice minister, Fu was Executive Deputy Minister of Public Security, a position he held starting in 2013. Before that, he was head of police in Beijing starting in 2010. 

The investigation into Fu was presaged by his removal from his post as justice minister last April, which itself occurred within days of an investigation into vice MPS minister Sun Lijun. Sun was expelled from the Communist Party on Sept. 30. 

Sun and Fu are two high-ranking police officials to be recently snared by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, which China watchers believe to be in fact driven by factional intrigue between Xi and his rivals in the CCP. 

Two previous vice-heads of the MPS, Li Dongsheng and Meng Hongwei, have been investigated and tried for corruption. 

Another recently purged security official is Peng Bo, who was deputy head of China’s cyberspace administration. 

All these men and many more purged by Xi have served in the ‘610 Office,’ a security organ established to persecute religious faiths deemed “cults” by the CCP. 

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Fu headed the secretive agency, officially called the “Central Leading Group on Preventing and Dealing with Cults,” starting in 2015. 

Targeting a rival faction

Sun, Li, Meng, and Peng were all senior officers in the 610 Office, which was originally set up in 1999 by then-CCP general secretary Jiang Zemin to carry out the repression of Falun Gong, a popular Chinese spiritual practice. 

China watchers see Xi’s anti-corruption campaign and extensive targeting of officials connected with Jiang and Jiang’s persecution of Falun Gong as a result of the factional struggle between the current and former Party bosses. 

According to analysts at New York-based think tank SinoInsider, Fu’s downfall was likely a matter of time, given his deep involvement with previously purged officials and the Jiang faction.

“Fu Zhenghua was Sun Lijun’s boss when they were in the 610 Office. It is possible that Sun divulged incriminating information about Fu to investigators, leading to the latter’s arrest,” Larry Ong, a researcher at SinoInsider, said in a written statement to Vision Times.

Ong said that the targeting of officials who served in the 610 Office is “likely linked with Xi Jinping’s effort to displace Jiang Zemin’s supra-authority organization (610 Office) with his own supra-authority organization (national security apparatus).”

The 610 Office was empowered to mobilize police and propaganda resources at all levels of administration on a nationwide scale, giving Jiang and his allies more direct control over the Chinese regime. Likewise, Xi formed a new top-level CCP organization — the National Security Commission — shortly after rising to power in 2012.

Meanwhile, going after the 610 Office and officials who had a hand in the worst abuses against Falun Gong gives Xi more leverage against the Jiang faction should the intra-Party struggle compel Xi to target Jiang’s political legacy, Ong said.

While little information is currently available about how specifically Fu Zhenghua violated Party discipline, the authorities’ Sept. 30 rhetoric against Sun Lijun paints a portrait of an official who was not only corrupt, but also schemed against the Xi leadership. 

Sun was accused of “spreading political rumors,” holding “improper discussions” about and concealing information from the central government, “accumulating political capital,” and “forming gangs to control key departments.” 

Ong believes that more high-ranking officials associated with the Jiang faction could be purged in the coming months, particularly those in the political and legal affairs apparatus, the CCP organizations that control the courts, prosecution, and police.

These include Supreme People’s Court head Zhou Qiang, former Political and Legal Affairs Commission head Meng Jianzhu, and current PLAC chief Guo Shengkun, with “Zhou Qiang being the most at-risk.”

  • Leo Timm is a writer and Chinese-to-English translator with years of experience covering Chinese politics, society, and culture. Follow him on Twitter at @soil_and_grain.