Vital lessons from Zhou's case

Updated: 2014-08-02 08:10

By Du Zhizhou (China Daily)

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Only a long-term mechanism to fight graft can prevent small 'flies' from becoming big 'tigers' and help cleanse the system

The news of former security chief Zhou Yongkang being placed under investigation for suspected "serious disciplinary violations" hit the headlines both at home and abroad, not least because he is the biggest "tiger" to be caught in the ongoing crackdown on corruption in China.

There had been talks about an investigation against Zhou for months but the official announcement came only on July 29. As a former member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Zhou had immense political influence over many officials holding powerful posts. So despite having clues about his involvement in corruption, anti-corruption officials would have struggled to probe into them. The higher position a corrupt official holds, the more resources he/she can mobilize to resist investigations against him/her and the longer he/she can evade the law.

Anti-corruption officials, therefore, adopted a smart strategy by first investigating corruption cases against Zhou's former subordinates and family members. They did not take any direct action against Zhou until they had gathered key evidence against him. The fact that Zhou's five former secretaries and a considerable number of former subordinates were already charged with corruption made it obvious that the investigation had been continuing for a long time.

Now, anti-corruption officials are actually checking out facts and sifting the evidence after having collected enough materials in most of the cases against Zhou.

Another important feature of the official announcement on Zhou is that it referred to him as "Zhou Yongkang" without the honorific "comrade", which implies that disciplinary officials have gathered enough evidence to prove his wrongdoings and expel him from the Party.

Zhou's case is remarkable for another reason, too. He is the first former member of the Political Bureau Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee, the country's top political body, to be probed for disciplinary violations in decades. The case highlights the fact that no one is above the law.

Besides, the move against Zhou is a new beginning in the anti-corruption campaign. The "entrapment" of the biggest "tiger" is a clear warning to officials across the country not to try their luck with corruption. Also, Party disciplinary commissions at all levels and other anti-corruption offices will see the move as an encouragement from the central leadership to do their job with greater determination and confidence.

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