Another high-ranking Chinese Communist Party official involved in the persecution of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong has been arrested. The arrest was met with applause on China’s Internet.
On July 20 the CCP’s disciplinary office announced that Wu Changshan, the head of the Public Security Bureau in the metropolis Tianjin in northern China, had been taken away for investigation. The announcement said Wu was suspected of “severe violations of the law.”
Since Xi Jinping became secretary general in November 2012, there have been continuous investigations of Party officials for “corruption.” To date over 400 officials are known to have been purged.
The 60-year-old Wu is the first provincial level official to be sacked in Tianjin. The announcement followed upon an inspection trip to Tianjin 12 days ago by the central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
The announcement came as something of a surprise. The week before Wu’s detention, he was still active in public activities and on TV. For instance, Wu participated in the live broadcast of Tianjin’s traffic radio on July 11, answering people’s questions.
Such a public presence is often a sign in China that an official is operating free of suspicion from Party central.
Over 13,000 netizens posted comments regarding Wu’s downfall. Overall, the netizens applauded the arrest and expressed hatred for Wu.
“The unjust are doomed to destruction! [Wu] is full of iniquities, and finally received retribution,” remarked a netizen on Tencent news. Many netizens expressed their agreement with the comment.
Close associates of Wu were charged with corruption in the past, leading to rumors that Wu himself was guilty.
After Wu’s mentor and boss for decades, Song Pingshun, committed suicide in 2007, the Commission for Discipline Inspection charged that Song had abused power to gain “huge illegal profits” for the sake of a mistress, “causing serious and adverse effects.”
A year before Song’s suicide, the former deputy director of the Tianjin Public Security Bureau, Li Baojin, who worked under Wu, was also investigated for embezzling millions in public funds and the abuse of power.
Although the crimes of Wu’s associates suggest to observers he is also guilty of corruption, the charge of corruption has not yet been leveled against him by authorities.
As the head of Public Security Bureau, Wu helped lead the persecution of Falun Gong in Tianjin. The campaign against Falun Gong was launched nationwide by the then-head of the CCP Jiang Zemin in 1999.
According to the Falun Dafa Information Center, hundreds of thousands of practitioners are detained at any one time. Over 3,700 practitioners are confirmed to have died from torture and abuse, although the true number is believed to be several times higher. Researchers say tens of thousands of practitioners have been killed as their organs have been harvested for sale.
The Falun Gong website Minghui, which serves as a clearinghouse for reports on the persecution, reported that Wu gave an order in December 2006 in a speech to 200 taxi drivers, requiring them to collect information on Falun Gong practitioners. The report says Wu promised to reward whoever offered useful information up to 20,000 yuan (US$3,222), and required 3000 taxi drivers be added, who could work providing information targeting Falun Gong.
Other Minghui reports mention Wu’s role in the arrest of Falun Gong practitioners who were then detained and tortured.
The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) has published a notice asking the public to document Wu’s crimes in persecuting Falun Gong practitioners in China.
Jiang Zemin promoted a large number of officials who were active in persecuting Falun Gong practitioners. Although Jiang retired in 2003, he played a significant role behind the scenes until 2012, when Xi Jinping took power.
Prior to Xi’s installation as general secretary, members of Jiang’s faction planned a coup to unseat Xi, according to sources high in the Party. Jiang feared that Xi, who has not been actively involved in the persecution, might end it. Those who committed crimes in carrying out the persecution could then be held accountable.
Xi learned of the planned coup, and began arresting members of Jiang’s faction, most often for “corruption,” soon after he took power.
Wu Changshan’s arrest is the most recent in a series of officials who were heavily involved in the persecution. They include: former Politburo member Bo Xilai; Li Dongsheng, the former head of the office charged with leading the campaign against Falun Gong; the former deputy chief of Sichuan Province, Li Chungcheng; Wan Qingliang, a member of the Guangdong Provincial Communist Party Standing Committee, and so on.
Zhou Yongkang, the former domestic security czar, and Zeng Qinghong, the former head of China’s intelligence services, have also both been arrested, according to sources high in the Party. These arrests have not been formally announced by the authorities.