Chinese authorities are investigating the 2000 car crash which killed the ex-wife of disgraced security chief Zhou Yongkang, escalating a political struggle at the top echelons of Chinese power, according to a report by Benjamin Kang Lim, Charlie Zhu, and David Lague for Reuters:
That investigators are going to such lengths to discredit Zhou is one sign of the power struggle that has raged at the very top of the Communist Party since the reins were handed to Xi almost two years ago. It isn’t over. Another indication is that Xi is considering a proposal to let the 205-member Central Committee deliberate on whether to press criminal charges against Zhou, 71, rather than handle his case exclusively among top leaders, said one person with ties to the leadership.
This would be an unprecedented departure from the party’s usually more opaque decision making on internal discipline matters. It suggests that Xi believes he needs to ensure the backing of the wider leadership before moving to decisively neutralize Zhou.
Xi and his allies are still uncertain how far they can go in their bid to eliminate the threat from a rival who once controlled China’s pervasive security apparatus and built a sprawling network of patronage with tentacles deep in politics and business, according to sources with ties to the leadership. More broadly, as his anti-corruption campaign begins to threaten powerful vested interests, Xi needs to weigh the danger of a backlash from some of China’s most politically connected families, who want to protect the vast wealth their proximity to power has afforded them. [Source]
Zhou was a close ally of former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai, who is now serving a life sentence for bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power. Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. Now, two years after Gu’s sentencing, Heywood’s mother has issued a statement demanding government compensation for her son’s death which she says was promised to her. From the Wall Street Journal:
I understand that the Chinese authorities are taking the line that this is a purely private matter, in which they have no responsibility. I find this quite astonishing. Let us turn things around and imagine a roughly analogous situation arising in the United Kingdom. The well-known wife of a successful and ambitious member of the British cabinet has befriended a Chinese businessman who is living in London with his English wife and two small children The friendship flourishes to the point where she becomes godmother to the daughter.
When, years later, the friendship sours, she murders the businessman by poisoning. Her husband, the cabinet minister, assisted by the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and a number of his senior deputies, conspires to cover up the murder. In such a case, one can be certain that the Chinese authorities would express public outrage, would hold the British government to account and would demand appropriate compensation for the family’s loss.
The Chinese authorities have, incidentally, told me that I could bring a civil case for compensation before the Chinese courts. This is absurd. As is well known, China does not enjoy the rule of law: the Chinese courts and the whole legal process are controlled by the Communist Party (or more accurately by people like Zhou Yongkang, his family, friends and associates, who are notorious for corruption and the abuse of power) and they are in no sense independent or trustworthy.
I find it difficult to understand China’s inertia and evasiveness in my family’s case. Is it because my grandchildren and I are English? Or is it just a question of callous indifference to our suffering? Or are there other factors, connected perhaps to factional or personal struggles or to Gu Kailai’s relationships with past and present members of the Chinese leadership? [Source]