State media tie Zhou Bin's business success to father Zhou Yongkang
Reports in mainland outlets claim offspring of retired former security tsar used political network to make corrupt business deals
State-owned media have drawn the most direct connection yet between the business empire of Zhou Bin and the power held by his father, retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang, as authorities continue to prepare the public for a final announcement on the party's case against the elder Zhou, analysts say.
An article on news portal Sohu.com said yesterday that Zhou Bin's empire had been built on "the name of the father".
"This was a fortune destined from birth. The family name Zhou gave the son numerous advantages during the first half of his life, but may also make him a prisoner in the latter half," said the article, which was compiled from reports by various domestic news outlets.
"Zhou Bin is tall, like his father. He was born when his father worked on the Liaohe oilfield and this destined him to be closely connected to the oil and energy sector," the article said.
Zhou Bin was born in 1972 when his father worked as a technician and party head at the Liaohe oilfield. Zhou Yongkang rose through the ranks to eventually gain a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee, before his retirement in November 2012.
Senior leaders endorsed a decision to investigate him nine months later at their secretive annual "summer meeting" at the seaside resort of Beidaihe, in Hebei, the South China Morning Post reported in August.
The younger Zhou used his father's influence to build a secret but massive business empire with interests in oil, hydropower, real estate and other sectors, the article said. He was formally detained in December.
People.com.cn, a website affiliated with People's Daily, reran the article. The China Youth Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Youth League, also ran a commentary questioning how the vested interests behind Zhou Bin were formed.
"Zhou Bin used his powerful government resources to obtain land he resold for a hefty profit. He could make corrupt deals because of the advantages he enjoyed, which were secured by powerful politicians intervening in business," it said.
A journalist who has investigated Zhou Bin but requested anonymity said his newspaper had not received orders to avoid reports about the son. "I guess the authorities want to use the media to crack the Zhou family's case and build up the right media environment, just as they did before with Bo Xilai," referring to the fallen former Chongqing party boss.
He said his newspaper ran such reports only online to reduce the risk of crossing authorities. News outlets would have to recall their print editions if propaganda officials ordered them to.
Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political affairs analyst, said that after such media exposure, everyone would know that Zhou would fall eventually.
Several domestic news outlets including Caixin, China Business News and The Beijing News also ran reports on Zhou Bin.
However, some of these were deleted later and searches of "Zhou Bin" began to be blocked on Sina Weibo and Baidu.com yesterday.