Zhou Yongkang

Findings of graft probe into former security chief Zhou Yongkang set to be revealed

Fears over public confidence in law and order mean findings of inquiry into former security chief may coincide with annual party meeting

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 July, 2014, 7:12am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 7:15pm

The formal announcement of the findings in the corruption investigation of retired national security chief Zhou Yongkang could come at about the time of an earlier-than-usual annual party meeting late next month.

Sources said the authorities were worried the disgrace of Zhou, who was in charge of law and order for more than a decade, would shake the public's confidence in the legal system.

Party leaders have decided to put more emphasis on the rule of law during the plenary session, said the sources, who include senior law enforcement and propaganda officials. The leaders also intend to defend the probe into the former Politburo Standing Committee member, saying the inquiry followed the party's constitution and was not driven by a political power struggle.

The party's central committee traditionally holds its annual meeting in the autumn. The most recently concluded third plenary session was last November.

But sources told the Post the leadership wanted to bring forward the fourth session, which normally discusses ideological development, to as early as next month or early September in response to the pressure to make Zhou's case public

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Zhou, 72, is believed to have been detained for alleged corruption since December. His whereabouts remain unknown, though family members are believed to be with him. The former national security chief is the highestranking casualty of President Xi Jinping's far-reaching campaign against corruption.

The sources said the party elite, both sitting and retired, would conduct the final review of Zhou's case next month at the conclave in the resort town of Beidaihe , in Hebei .

That meeting of the elite circle would also decide whether to hand over Zhou for criminal prosecution or punish him within the party's own procedures.

The debate over how to handle the case was continuing because the authorities had yet to gather enough criminal evidence against Zhou, the sources said.

Senior cadres were told the investigation would deal only with alleged economic crimes and that the alleged amounts of money involved were smaller than many expected, a person familiar with the case said earlier.

The decision to investigate Zhou was made after party leaders reached a consensus at last year's Beidaihe meeting.

Since Xi called for a nationwide anti-corruption campaign last year, dozens of senior officials have been targeted.

The sources said party leaders had decided to emphasise the rule of law during the plenary session to ease public speculation that investigations into disgraced officials were purely political purges.

"The top leader wants to show that the campaign against corruption is for the benefit of the party and the public, not to pursue his own interest in opposing anyone," a source said.

Another source said: "It would be a milestone meeting in the country's pursuance of the rule of law."

The constitution could be revised after the party met, he added, but refused to give details.

The current constitution was adopted in 1982 and its latest amendment came in 2004.

Xi pledged to safeguard the constitution and stressed the importance of the rule of law soon after becoming party general secretary in 2012.

He urged officials to uphold justice for the common people.

The president won praise from legal experts and the public for trying to consolidate the application of the constitution.

But the detention of rights lawyers and activists during his leadership has caused concern.