Reporting Zhou Yongkang’s Arrest: Primer on the Power Struggle in Beijing

By Xie Dongyan
Xie Dongyan
Xie Dongyan
December 11, 2013 Updated: December 15, 2013

The publication of the news that former domestic security tsar Zhou Yongkang is under shuanggui, the abusive system of detention and interrogation the Party uses on its own officials, marks the latest stage in a long-running power struggle at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Right at the moment when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Dec. 4, several Chinese news websites based outside China that have in the past seemed to work hand-in-glove with the political designs of former CCP leader Jiang Zemin and his faction released news of Zhou’s detention. His wife is said to be under house arrest, and his younger son, Zhou Bin, has been interrogated.

The publication of these articles indicates that Jiang Zemin and his loyalists have abandoned Zhou Yongkang, their former strongman, in favor of their own survival.

They also used the media reports to attack their political foes, former premier Wen Jiabao and Ling Jihua, former CCP leader Hu Jintao’s former personal secretary whose son died in a suspicious Ferrari crash last year. The media reports stated that Wen and Ling would be Xi Jinping’s next anti-corruption targets.

Wen Jiabao and Ling Jihua are considered bitter enemies by the Jiang faction because the two have toppled senior officials loyal to Jiang Zemin, causing serious damage to their power structure and disrupting a coup plotted by the Jiang faction against Xi Jinping.

Bo Xilai

Disgraced former Politburo member and Party secretary of Chongqing Bo Xilai was a protégé of both Zhou Yongkang and Jiang Zemin. Bo was groomed by them to replace Zhou Yongkang in the Politburo Standing Committee after Zhou’s retirement at the 18th Party Congress last year. They also had designs for Bo to become the future head of the CCP.

But all of that fell through when Bo’s right-hand man Wang Lijun sought refuge from Bo in the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu in February of 2012. Wang allegedly disclosed very damaging secrets, including information about an attempted coup plot to remove Xi Jinping.

After this incident, former Premier Wen Jiabao in a press conference following the close of the National People’s Congress on March 14, 2012 said, “The results that we have achieved may be lost. A historical tragedy like the Cultural Revolution may occur again. “

Bo Xilai had sought in Chongqing to revive a passion for Maoism, and a common criticism of him was that there were hints of the Cultural Revolution in his policies in Chongqing. In fact, Wen’s reference to the Cultural Revolution was a veiled attack on Bo Xilai, as became clear a little later in the three-hour meeting.

In response to a question, Wen said, “The present Chongqing municipal Party committee and the municipal government must reflect seriously and learn from the Wang Lijun incident.” Then, Wen immediately referred to the CCP Central Committee meeting in 1978 that repudiated the Cultural Revolution had put China on a path of modernization and reform. Wen linked the lessons to be learned from the Wang Lijun affair—a disgrace that implicated Bo Xilai in particular—to the repudiation of the Cultural Revolution.

The next day, March 15, Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, and Xi Jinping jointly dismissed Bo Xilai from his Chongqing Party position.

In 2007, Bo Xilai’s promotion to deputy prime minister during the 17th Party Congress had been blocked due to Wen Jiabao’s and Vice Premier Wu Yi’s strong opposition. Wen allegedly felt that Bo was not a suitable candidate because of the multiple international torture lawsuits that had been filed against him by Falun Gong practitioners. Bo, who was China’s commerce minister at the time, was subsequently demoted to the post of Communist Party chief in Chongqing in 2007.

Bo Xilai’s ouster in March of last year seriously disrupted Jiang Zemin’s plans who had counted on Bo to continue his Falun Gong persecution policies and cover-up for Jiang’s crimes.

According to individuals familiar with the matter, the Jiang faction originally planned during the 18th Party Congress to have Bo Xilai appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee and as the Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC)—the Party organ that controls the police, Armed Police, intelligence services, courts, lawyers, procuratorate, prisons, and labor camps. They would then seize power by using their control over the Armed Police to arrest Xi Jinping after two years of preparation.

Ferrari Crash

Before the 17th Party Congress, Ling Jihua helped Hu Jintao to remove Shanghai Party chief Chen Liangyu, Jiang Zemin’s chosen successor as the CCP’s general secretary, severely disrupting Jiang’s faction. The faction was left with no choice but to find another successor, and finally settled on Bo Xilai, who devotedly followed Jiang Zemin in the persecution of Falun Gong.

In 2011, Ling Jihua led the Central Disciplinary Committee to investigate Wang Lijun, resulting in Wang Lijun and Bo Xilai becoming enemies. Once again, Ling had thwarted the Jiang faction’s plans for keeping power.

Three days after Bo Xilai was removed from the post of Chongqing Party Secretary, Ling Jihua’s son, Ling Gu, was killed in a Ferrari crash that was publicized worldwide and questioned by many owing to the cover-up of details.

Hong Kong’s Frontline magazine (Qian Shao) recently said in a report that Ling Gu’s crash was very strange, definitely not a normal car accident, but a political assassination. The report cited high-level sources in Beijing as saying the Ferrari accident was in fact a political murder of Ling Jihua’s son. According to the magazine, Zhou Yongkang and Zeng Qinghong (also a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee and close ally of Jiang Zemin) meant to send a message to the top-level leadership to release Bo Xilai.

Billionaire’s Forced Confession

Epoch Times, earlier this year, reported an exclusive about Wuhan billionaire Xu Chongyang, who had been jailed in 2011 and tortured during Bo Xilai’s “Striking the Black” campaign in Chongqing. Xu was forced by the Beijing Municipal Committee of the PLAC and Hubei Provincial PLAC to make confessions.

Under repeated torture, Xu confessed to three things:
1. that he had accepted secret orders from Hu Jintao’s “most trusted political fixer” Ling Jihua;
2. that he is a Falun Gong practitioner;
3. that he was also receiving directives from the U.S. intelligence services.

Bo Xilai’s purpose was to turn Xu’s case into an ironclad case for targeting Ling Jihua, Falun Gong, and the U.S. government.

Xu Chongyang told the Epoch Times that his case was part of the Jiang faction’s plot against Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, and Ling Jihua.

Failed Coup Attempt

The day after the fatal car crash of Ling Jihua’s son, gunshots were heard in Beijing during the night of March 19, 2012. Rumors swirled that Zhou Yongkang was attempting a coup utilizing the armed police in the capital.

Netizens spread the story over the Internet the next day using comic characters. The headline read: “Teletubby at war with chief Kang,” referring to Wen Jiabao and Zhou Yongkang. It said chief Kang had lost the war due to having lost his senior general, “Tomato” (a reference to Bo Xilai), prior to the war and ended up being taken down.

The Epoch Times then learned that, as soon as Zhou Yongkang’s March 19 coup failed, he had lost his power in Beijing. He could only mark time until he retired at the 18th Congress in November, 2012. The then-Minister of Public Security, Meng Jianzhu, took over Zhou’s post.

Since he was stripped of his power, Zhou Yongkang’s public appearances have merely served the illusion of harmony, which the regime employs to maintain power.

Standoff Between Wen and Zhou

While the fierce battle raged inside the Beijing leadership compound of Zhongnanhai in April 2012 over Bo Xilai, the renowned blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng successfully broke away from surveillance by the PLAC in Linyi, Shandong Province, and found refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Chen published a video asking Wen Jiabao to thoroughly investigate the PLAC’s illegal persecution of him. This caused a sensational diplomatic incident, putting the PLAC and Zhou Yongkang in the spotlight once again.

Sources with access to senior-level leaders in Beijing told Epoch Times at the time that the reason Chen Guangcheng was able to successfully escape was not merely luck or coincidence, it also included “secret help.”

At the night of May 6, 2012, a number of celebrities spread the word on Weibo and Twitter that, “something major is going to happen in Beijing! Wen Jiabao may resign.” This caused quite a stir among the public and domestic media.

In its exclusive report the Epoch Times later revealed that Wen Jiabao confronted Zhou Yongkang in a meeting of the Political Bureau held around the time of the Chen Guangcheng incident, and asked for an investigation of Zhou. Zhou then countered by asking for an investigation of Wen and his wife, quoting negative overseas hearsay about Wen. Zhou was supported by Zeng Qinghong.

In a rare statement Wen Jiabao responded, “If my family or I are found to have committed corruption, I will resign immediately!”

But Zhou and Zeng did not persist in their request because the rumors about Wen’s wealth had been made up by a Baidu CEO as part of Zhou’s and Bo’s media war and their plan to seize power.

Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai forced Google out of China a few years ago and turned Baidu into a monopoly, so as to control Baidu Search and use it as a tool to discredit Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, and Xi Jinping.

Vindicating Victims of Persecution

What made the Jiang faction most afraid, and hate Wen Jiabao so much, is that Wen mentioned many times during his term in office the need to formally vindicate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and the Falun Gong persecution, and also criticized the forced organ harvesting taking place in China.

After the Wang Lijun incident, Wen Jiabao was the most decisive among the high level CCP officials to jail Bo Xilai. Wen once said, “The first six to seven years, and even before, [we] could see the terrible result that persecuting Falun Gong would bring to China. Our investigation revealed that Jiang Zemin used astonishing amounts of the nation’s wealth to persecute an unarmed civil organization. It’s very absurd, even today, the central leadership has not faced or resolved this issue.”

Another source claimed that Wen Jiabao said during an internal meeting at Zhongnanhai: “Without anesthesia, live harvesting of human organs, then selling them for money, is this something a person can do? This kind of thing has happened for many years, we are about to retire, it is still not resolved … Now this Wang Lijun incident that has appeared, the entire world knows. Using the punishment of Bo Xilai to resolve the Falun Gong issue should be very straight forward …”

On March 14, 2012, Wen Jiabao mentioned several times during a press conferences that even if he were to die, he wants to, “be responsible to the people, be responsible to the nation … to gain understanding and forgiveness from the people.” It is precisely because of the regime’s live organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners that Wen Jiabao felt guilty that he, the premier, could not stop it.

Before the start of the 18th Party Congress, the Jiang faction’s slandering of Wen Jiabao reached a peak. The Jiang faction, represented by Zhou Yongkang, used secret agents from the national security system to leak fake corruption documents about Wen Jiabao’s wealth to western media. The purpose was to challenge Hu, Wen, and Xi to a fight for power during the 18th Party Congress. The New York Times published this material in an article on its front page on Oct. 26, 2012.

Later, Voice of America based in Beijing verified that all English and foreign language media received a very thick report that included economic investment activities of Wen Jiabao’s family, including certification by some audit agencies.

Abandoning Zhou Yongkang

With Bo Xilai in prison, serving a life sentence for crimes of corruption, and Zhou Yongkang under investigation, Jiang Zemin’s power and influence have become minimal. But abandoning Zhou may now seem to Jiang his only hope for saving himself.

Jiang has also had many law suits filed against him by Falun Gong practitioners in many countries. Pressure world-wide is growing to demand accountability from the Chinese regime for the crimes of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners.

Jiang rose to power in 1989 after pushing for the crackdown in Tiananmen Square that resulted in the June 4 student massacre. Jiang replaced Zhao Ziyang as the Communist Party chief and was leader of the People’s Republic of China from 1993 to 2003, as well as chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1989 to 2005.

Jiang launched the persecution of the spiritual practice of Falun Gong in July 1999, despite objections from high-ranking party members. Although Jiang was replaced as head of the CCP by Hu Jintao in 2004, he retained significant power behind the scenes as head of a faction within the CCP.

Jiang put the persecution of Falun Gong under the direct charge of the PLAC, and arranged for the first PLAC director Luo Gan to become a member of the ruling Politburo Standing Committee.

On Luo’s retirement in 2007, Jiang saw to it that Zhou Yongkang held the twin positions of director of the PLAC and member of the Politburo Standing Committee. Zhou Yongkang was Jiang Zemin’s nephew-in-law and entered into the Politburo completely with the help of Jiang.

Translated by Cheryl Chen, Albert Ding, and Joseph Wu. Written in English by Gisela Sommer.

Read the original Chinese article.

Xie Dongyan