The Power Shift

Who is Zhang Jun and why was he just promoted to the Communist Party's disciplinary body?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2012, 1:39pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2012, 2:03pm


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When Xinhua stated on October 26 that the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress had voted to remove Zhang Jun (张军) from his position as vice president of the Supreme People's Court, many assumed a connection to the same body's announcement earlier that day to kick Bo Xilai off China's national legislature.

From the outside, what looked like a takedown of one of Bo's strongest allies - and open supporter of his notoriously extralegal 'smash black' campaign against organised crime in Chongqing - was actually part of preparations to appoint the career bureaucrat deputy secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

That decision was made this past weekend at the internal disciplinary body's final plenary session prior to reshuffling during this week's 18th Party Congress.

Zhang, who first began working at the Supreme People's Court in 1985, has also been a vice minister with the Ministry of Justice since 2003.

His reputation as a leftist hardliner aside, the ascension of someone whose most well-known quote discourages the public from filing lawsuits - and seems to hold those who do in contempt - to the centre of China's judiciary hasn't gone unnoticed.

Rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, who got to know Chongqing (and Zhang) quite well during Bo's reign, looks cynically on the news with the response that the man who bent the state's laws to push an agenda in Chongqing will probably have no reservations, referring to what happened (wink) to Huang Songyou, about going after anyone around him in the ongoing fight against corruption.

Is Zhang just a career bureaucrat whose time has come, or does his promotion now figure somewhere into the nuances of Beijing's behind-the-scenes power politics?

Or is he another Bo Xilai, waiting in the wings?