Zhou Yongkang, the former Chinese security chief, was expelled from the Chinese Communist Party, according to a report on Friday.
The AFP news agency said Zhou was expelled from the party. According to a previous Epoch Times report, Zhou has been under investigation.
Zhou, who was one of the most powerful people in China at one point, was also one of those responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese spiritual practice.
He is the highest-ranking Party official to be formally investigated.
#BREAKING China’s former security chief Zhou Yongkang expelled from Communist Party: Xinhua
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) December 5, 2014
As the Epoch Times previously reported:
This investigation breaches an unwritten rule that members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo—the small group of men who sit atop the Party hierarchy—could not be arrested.
In addition to serving on the Standing Committee from 2007-2012, Zhou was at or near the top of the Chinese regime’s public security and legal apparatus for ten years. His power was such that commentators have described him as heading a second center of power in the Party that rivaled the authority of the general secretary.
The announcement followed a week of rumors that swirled around the Party leadership. After Xi Jinping’s return on July 25 from a trip to South America, the other members of the Standing Committee were not seen in public.
Reports circulated that they were at the leadership’s summer beach resort of Beidaihe, where they and influential retired Party leaders were said to discuss Zhou’s case.
“The time to formally announce must be agreed to by the members of the Standing Committee,” said China expert (and Epoch Times columnist) Heng He in a phone interview. “They had to make the decision formally. If something happens later, everyone has signed and everyone is responsible. Having a scapegoat is ruled out.”
In the days just prior to the arrest, China’s military conducted exercises of unprecedented size. The exercises were meant to send a message, in Heng He’s view.
“The exercises gave a warning to whoever might want to challenge Xi Jinping, whether openly or secretly,” Heng He said. “The exercises show who is the boss.”