Shen Dingcheng, a former secretary of ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang, was reportedly placed under investigation, joining the likes of three more of Zhou’s allies who are now being probed for corruption.
The China Business Journal quoted an anonymous source as saying that Shen, the party chief and vice-president of PetroChina International, disappeared from the public eye just before the Lunar New Year holiday.
South China Morning Post points out that Shen is just one among a network of people linked to Zhou who have been placed under investigation by police as of recently, including Beijing spy chief Liang Ke and Liu Han, the Sichuan mining tycoon who was just charged for running a ‘mafia-style’ criminal organization.
The China Business Journal, which like other publications did not mention Zhou by name, said Shen became a secretary to “a particular leader at China National Petroleum Corporation [CNPC] at some point between 1992 and 1997”. Zhou held the positions of deputy manager and general manager of CNPC at that time.
The report also highlighted Shen’s links with three other former secretaries to Zhou and even described Shen as being part of a “gang of four” secretaries. The other former secretaries are ex-CNPC deputy general manager Li Hualin, former deputy Hainan governor Ji Wenlin , and the former chairman of the Federation of Literary and Art Circles in Sichuan, Guo Yongxiang. All three are being investigated for graft.
At the end of January, the Post reported that authorities in China began briefing officials on findings of Zhou’s corruption investigation, suggesting that the probe was in its final stage and could lead to a trial.
Zhou, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee and a key ally of Bo Xilai, was reportedly placed under house arrest in December, and media have suggested 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”.
Aforementioned Liang, whose dismissal was announced on Friday, also had ties to disgraced deputy national police chief Li Dongsheng, who was placed under investigation in December for “suspected serious laws and discipline violations”.
The string of investigations are the result of Xi Jinping’s highly touted war on corruption, in which China’s president has pledged to take down powerful “tigers” like Zhou as well as the lowly “flies”, although it’s been criticized that some prominent top leaders under scrutiny have conveniently skated by unscathed.
[Image via SCMP]