Ex-security tsar Zhou Yongkang's fate to be decided at party plenum
Central Committee will consider action against Zhou Yongkang during party's fourth plenum
The Communist Party's powerful Central Committee will decide whether to expel and prosecute former security tsar Zhou Yongkang when the party plenum gets under way on Monday.
In an online article yesterday, the said Zhou's fate would be decided by the committee's 200 or so members at its three-day fourth plenum.
"Arrangements including whether or not to expel Zhou from the Communist Party and transfer the case to judicial authorities are likely to be made during the fourth plenum," the article said. The item was not published in print.
If prosecuted, Zhou would be the most senior leader to face charges for economic crimes.
The party's anti-graft watchdog announced more than two months ago that it was investigating Zhou for corruption. Observers are watching closely to see if General Secretary Xi Jinping and the party leadership will take the next step to press charges against Zhou.
Reuters yesterday quoted sources as saying that Zhou would be expelled from the party when the graft watchdog presented findings from its corruption investigation at the plenum. The Central Committee would then decide whether to hand Zhou to prosecutors.
The also said the plenum would complete formalities to expel and hand over to prosecutors the cases of Zhou's top aides - former Sichuan deputy party chief Li Chuncheng , former deputy public security minister Li Dongsheng, former chief regulator of state-owned enterprises Jiang Jiemin , and former China National Petroleum Corp deputy manager Wang Yongchun .
Zhou, a powerful ally of the disgraced former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai , had a power base that extended from the petroleum industry to Sichuan officialdom, the police and the legal affairs establishment.
In a case unrelated to Zhou, the plenum would also formalise steps to dismiss disgraced Guangzhou party boss Wan Qingliang , the article said.
The Politburo said last month that the fourth plenary session of the 18th party congress would focus on improving administration of law. The rule of law tops the agenda of the plenum as "loopholes in the legal system" and the poor implementation of law have become the major concerns of citizens, according to the article.
The lack of a mature judicial system means that grass-roots anger often bubbles up into social unrest. In Kunming , eight people died in violent clashes between villagers and construction workers on Tuesday, allegedly over compensation for forced demolition.
The newspaper said the four-day party conclave was expected to lay down more specific policy directives on a wide range of reforms regarding legislation, implementation of law, and the independent exercise of judicial and procuratorial power.
But it cautioned the public not to expect dramatic changes that the country was not ready for. "It concerns us that some people expect the fourth plenum to perfect the country's rule of law overnight and even offer solutions to all problems," it said.
Instead, the new policy directives will roll out detailed measures to implement broad reform guidelines to boost judicial independence introduced by the third plenum last year.