Xi Sets Up Special Unit to Probe Zhou Yongkang, SCMP Reports

Chinese President Xi Jinping set up a special unit for a probe into former head of internal security Zhou Yongkang, the South China Morning Post reported, citing three people it didn’t identify.

Beijing police chief Fu Zhenghua will head the unit and report directly to Xi, rather than through the Communist Party’s discipline commission, the newspaper reported. The move reflects Xi’s personal interest in the case and concerns that the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection doesn’t have the proper experience handling criminal investigations, according to the report.

Party leaders have warned that corruption threatens their grip on power and have announced anti-graft investigations of a number of officials in recent months. A formal criminal probe of Zhou would be the first targeting a current or retired member of the party’s elite Politburo Standing Committee since the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.

Zhou retired last year from the panel, which then had nine members. He oversaw the nation’s police forces, whose budget under his tenure surpassed that of the military.

One source cited by the paper said that the discipline commission, headed by Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Qishan, is focusing on a larger crackdown on corruption by party officials while Fu focuses on Zhou.

The Beijing police department declined to comment on the report, while no one was immediately available to comment at China’s Foreign Ministry.

In the past two months several officials at state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. have been removed amid a corruption probe. On Sept. 1 the government and party announced that Jiang Jiemin, then head of the state-owned assets overseer, was under investigation for “serious disciplinary violations.” Jiang, like Zhou, was a former CNPC head and the two both served in top party posts at the Shengli oilfield in eastern China from 1989-1990, according to their official biographies.

The South China Morning Post first reported on Aug. 30 that party leaders had agreed to launch a probe into Zhou.

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