Ideological training sessions in communist China are notoriously boring. But in a Beijing rife with rumors of coups and purges, such a boring training session is causing excited speculation that another top official is being shown the door.
The Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC) is a very powerful organization in the apparatus of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), controlling the police, the Armed Police, the courts, and the procuratorate—nearly everything having to do with law enforcement. Zhou Yongkang has been China’s top cop for a long time—he has headed the PLAC since 2007 and before that was the Minister of Public Security.
On the evening of March 21 Party mouthpiece Xinhua announced the PLAC would hold a nationwide training session, the first meeting of which would take place on March 26. Large-scale nationwide training will start in late April, and 3,300 secretaries are expected to participate. This was also announced on Zhou’s nameplate page on People’s Daily Online.
There were a few odd things about this announcement. On March 19, Zhou had held a full meeting of the PLAC and never mentioned that a nationwide training session would meet in one week.
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Bo Xilai, the former Party chief in the province-level city of Chongqing, and Zhou Yongkang have been core members of the Party faction led by former Party head Jiang Zemin. Jiang has contested with the current Party chief Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao for authority ever since they assumed office ten years ago.
On March 15, Zhou’s handpicked successor to head the PLAC, Bo Xilai, was placed under house arrest by the Central Guard Bureau, the agency responsible for the security of the CCP’s top leaders. Many bloggers assumed Zhou has now suffered Bo’s fate.
“The PLAC will be holding a massive training course for over 3,300 secretaries. Don’t you guys think there’s something fishy about it? Perhaps Zhou Yongkang is in trouble now,” wrote user Top-news-V.
“It looks like Zhou Yongkang has been arrested,” wrote user RT@cnbest. “The PLAC wants its people to pledge their loyalty.”
Another blogger wrote, “It looks like the Party secretary of the PLAC is a goner, and Party officials have to realign the formation.”
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The training session was often understood by netizens to be a means of enforcing loyalty to Hu Jintao. User Animated comic fan Zhou Yu believed forcing the members of the PLAC to choose Hu’s side to be a preparation for a more general purge:
“This is how a power struggle is carried out in an imperial court: the top officials in the capital have to line up to make a public stance, followed by the army, then local government leaders. So secretaries of all local PLAC need to go to the capital to make a public stance. The Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will hunt down and remove the opponents.”
In general, the training session was seen as evidence that Hu’s faction was now ascendant. A blogger commented, “Wen Jiabao, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang have all made appearances on CCTV’s nightly news tonight, but not a single soul from the Jiang faction has shown up. It looks like they have already been defeated.”
Reports of Zhou’s Arrest
Multiple sources have claimed that Zhou Yongkang has in fact been arrested, although no confirmation of these claims has so far been possible.
A trusted source for The Epoch Times who has regular access to the top Party officials reported on March 21 that “Something serious has happened in Beijing. Zhou has been arrested.”
Also on March 21, the Financial Times quoted “one person with close ties to China’s security apparatus” as saying “Mr Zhou had been ordered not to make any public appearances or take any high-level meetings and was ‘already under some degree of control.’”
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported on March 21 multiple arrests of top figures. The paper quoted Wu Guancong, a CEO of Guangzhou Sports Development Company, as saying a person from Beijing with inside information told him that the Party Central had a severe split regarding how to handle Bo Xilai. “Wen Jiabao and Zhou Yongkang had a serious conflict;” Wu was quoted as saying. “I heard that the gang of four [of the Jiang faction], Bo, Zhou, Jia (Qinglin), and Li Changchun, have all been sacked.”
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