On the last day of the biggest meeting of year of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party state-run media announced Party head Xi Jinping was taking direct control over a key law enforcement agency.
On Thursday, Beijing News published an article saying Xi was directly in charge of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission (PLAC) and would focus concern on the reform of the legal system in China. The decision was announced at the 4th Plenary of the Central Committee of the 18th National Party Congress.
The report said members of the Politburo Standing Committee had been in charge of the PLAC in the past, and Xi’s direct management was an upgrade in control of the agency. The report has been widely reproduced by mainstream Chinese media with a headline such as “Management Level Enhanced, General Secretary [Xi Jinping] Directly in charge of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission.”
Early in January, Xi also personally participated and led a Central PLAC meeting, the report said. At the meeting, Xi spoke harshly about government corruption, vowing to eliminate corruption and corrupt officials with “the strongest will and the strongest action.”
The report also emphasized a meeting of the Central Committee Public Security Commission (CCPSC) hosted on Oct. 17 as a prelude of the party Central Committee Meeting this week.
At the meeting, the name of the CCPSC was restored to what it had been three years ago. The name change is believed to be a slap at former PLAC head Zhou Yongkang. The Party announced in July that Zhou had been put under a formal investigation.
Established in 1991, the CCPSC had its name changed under Zhou into the Central Comprehensive Social Management Commission in 2011. The CCPSC and PLAC work under one roof and under the same leadership.
During Zhou’s leadership, the PLAC became an extremely powerful organ that supervised all law enforcement authorities, including the Ministry of Public Security, the Armed Police, the courts, the Procuratorate, and the prisons and labor camps.
Zhou used the PLAC’s vast powers to persecute practitioners of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong, which then-CCP head Jiang Zemin had banned in 1999. Under Zhou the detaining, torturing, and brainwashing of practitioners in China became most widespread.
Under the name of “stability maintenance” Zhou also employed the PLAC to suppress petitioners, rights defenders, and other spiritual groups, using the means developed against Falun Gong.
The public expected this week’s Central Committee meetings to announce a decision on the disgraced Zhou, one of Jiang Zemin’s top allies. That has not been forthcoming.
However, six sacked officials were reportedly purged from the CCP on the last day of the Central Committee’s meeting.
A meeting of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which is in charge of the anti-corruption campaign, will be held on Oct. 25. There is public speculation in China that the decision on Zhou may be announced at that time.
With additional research by Liu Xiaiozhen.