A chief lieutenant of Zhou Yongkang, the former security czar, has been put under detention and investigated as part of an internal Party disciplinary procedure, according to a source familiar with the events.
The move against the officer, who used to head the surveillance brigade in the Ministry of Public Security’s Department of Internet Surveillance, is a blow to Zhou Yongkang, and indicates that the new leadership headed by Xi has already begun to take action against holdouts of former Party leader Jiang Zemin, to whom Zhou was a key loyalist.
The investigation of the official, identified merely as “Zhou Tong,” which is not his real name, was initiated in July 2012. Staff from the Central Propaganda Department, the Ministry of Culture, and others in the propaganda system were seconded to assist in the investigation, according to the source.
Zhou Tong used his post to censor negative information online about Zhou Yongkang and other members of the Jiang faction, while spreading damaging information about other Party members that Zhou Yongkang wanted to attack, according to the source. He was compensated by Zhou Yongkang and former Beijing Party secretary Liu Qi, the source said.
Sources said that Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping began taking steps to investigate and arrest Zhou Tong in July last year, soon after Liu Qi stepped down. The investigation spanned around 20 provinces, including Gansu, Hunan, Hubei, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Guangzhou, and Guangxi, owing to Zhou Tong’s vast network, according to the source.
The leak of the detention of Zhou Tong comes as ordinary Chinese have begun singling out Zhou Yongkang for censure in China.
Petitioners holding signs denouncing Zhou Yongkang’s stewardship of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC), a powerful Party organ that controls the country’s domestic security forces, have gathered outside Peking University, Tsinghua University, the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, and elsewhere in Beijing since Dec. 20, demanding that Zhou disclose his personal assets and the real expenses of the security system. The police have not harshly ended those protests, as often happens.
There is no consensus in the Party on how to deal with Zhou Yongkang, who for years oversaw a vast expansion of the power and budget of the PLAC, a Party body whose operations now intrude on the lives of hundreds of millions of Chinese. Sources in China familiar with the discussions among key Party officials said if Zhou was ever publicly punished, Jiang Zemin, his political patron, would be prepared to distance himself from Zhou to avoid creating the impression that he was forced to sacrifice a key lieutenant.
Editor’s Note: When Chongqing’s former top cop, Wang Lijun, fled for his life to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, he set in motion a political storm that has not subsided. The battle behind the scenes turns on what stance officials take toward the persecution of Falun Gong. The faction with bloody hands—the officials former CCP head Jiang Zemin promoted in order to carry out the persecution—is seeking to avoid accountability for their crimes and to continue the campaign. Other officials are refusing to participate in the persecution any longer. Events present a clear choice to the officials and citizens of China, as well as people around the world: either support or oppose the persecution of Falun Gong. History will record the choice each person makes.
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