Powerful Former Official Now Said to Be Under Investigation

March 15, 2015 Updated: March 16, 2015

A former vice chairman of the Chinese Communist Party has been placed under investigation, according to a Hong Kong political magazine. No Chinese official or media channel has reported the news.

Zeng Qinghong, a member of the powerful Politburo Standing Committee and vice chairman of the PRC from 2003 to 2008, has long been known to be the right-hand-man and closest  backroom operator to former leader Jiang Zemin. Rumors have swirled for over a year that Zeng is headed for trouble, and his public appearances have been fewer than would usually be expected.

The Trend, a Hong Kong political magazine that specializes in political insights and leaks from mainland China, claimed that anti-corruption investigators put Zeng under investigation in late February. The article named the official with the anti-corruption office who is said to have verified that there is such an investigation. An email to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection was not returned.

Zeng is likely a target for the immense power he accumulated while in office, which allowed him to retain influence far after 2008 when he formally retired from office. He was able to amass enormous wealth both inside and out of office, The Trend says. Primarily, Zeng is known to be a close follower of Jiang Zemin, the Party godfather who many purged officials have been connected with.

The anti-corruption official quoted by The Trend was also said to have relayed to Zeng “three pieces of advice” from Wang Qishan, the head of the anti-corruption agency. The Trend did not explain how it was aware of the content of discussions among these high-level Party officials.

Zeng was advised to “reflect” and “come clean” on his corruption and politicking; he was warned not to harbor any “fantasies” about his predicament; and make a deep self-reflection.

Day’s prior to The Trend’s prognostications, Zeng’s former aide, Shi Zhihong, gave an unusual, long monologue to reporters during the Two Sessions, the annual political conclave in Beijing, seeking to argue that Zeng was innocent, and that speculation about his demise was mistaken at best.

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