Authorities in China have begun briefing officials on findings of the Zhou Yongkang corruption investigation case, suggesting that the investigation is in its final stage and could potentially lead to ‘one of China’s most spectacular trials’ in recent history, South China Morning Post reports.
Zhou, formerly a member of the Politburo Standing Committee as well as one of China’s most powerful politicians, was reportedly placed under house arrest in December as Communist Party officials further investigated accusations of corruption against him that were first first reported by SCMP last August. Media have said that if a potential trial were to result in his downfall, it would 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”.
The Post now reports that the recent authority briefings could mark the end of the investigation:
The briefings included new details about the possible origins of the case against the retired Politburo Standing Committee member, according to people who received the information.
For instance, the decision to investigate Zhou last summer was made after findings of an inquiry into his former top aide Guo Yongxiang were presented to the top leadership.
Guo – a former Sichuan deputy governor and Zhou secretary – was detained on suspicion of corruption in June. He was by then semi-retired in an honorary role as chairman of the Federation of Literary and Art Circles in Sichuan, a political power base of Zhou’s.
The briefings were seen as a sign the case against Zhou, who was until late 2012 one of the nine most powerful officials in the Communist Party, could be announced soon, perhaps after the Lunar New Year holiday. Such briefings for top-level officials are customary at the culmination of highly sensitive cases.
Specific allegations surrounding the case have so far only been speculated, although one source with knowledge of the briefings said in the same report that the investigation was dealing with financial issues and corruption.
Party authorities have likewise detained close associates of Zhou for investigation, including Jiang Jiemin and Li Dongsheng, as part of Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption, in which he’s pledged to take down powerful “tigers” and lowly “flies”.