Zhou Yongkang, formerly one of China’s most powerful politicians, has been placed under house arrest as Communist Party officials further investigate accusations of corruption against him, sources have said in a Reuters report.
Zhou is the most senior official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communists came to power in 1949. He was the domestic security tsar and a member of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee – the pinnacle of power in the country – when he retired last year.
Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a special task force formed in late November or early December to look into several accusations brought against Zhou by political rivals, sources with ties to the leadership said, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for discussing secretive elite politics.
Zhou, a former key ally of Bo Xilai, is being investigated for violating party discipline, official talk for corruption, according to sources, although they did not say what the specific allegations were.
“Zhou Yongkang’s freedom has been restricted. His movements have been monitored,” one source said.
They added that he can’t leave his home in Beijing or welcome guests without approval beforehand.
Xi will soon decide whether Zhou should be publicly prosecuted, pending results of the internal investigation, according to sources in the report. Xi’s war on corruption has promised to target powerful “tigers” like Zhou (he is dubbed the “great tiger”, among other names), as well as lowly “flies”.
If the investigation of Zhou, who is still considered a respected former top official, results in his downfall, “it will be one of the biggest purges since the Communist Party took power in 1949, with farther reaching consequences than the 2012 unraveling of former Chongqing Party Boss Bo Xilai” says Tea Leaf Nation.
Related: Bo Xilai likely to spend his life sentence in a ‘Five Star Prison’