The case against former security chief Zhou Yongkang has been slowly gathering steam over the past year, following his last public appearance in October 2013. Hundreds of his associates and family members have been detained, questioned, and investigated in a targeted corruption probe. But authorities have not yet been forthcoming with details about the case against Zhou, which some have speculated is due to disagreements about how to handle the case at the top levels of power. But the government recently indicated that the case would take some time to process as investigators were still gathering evidence. Cary Huang reports for the South China Morning Post:
[Zhang Sujun, vice-minister of justice] said Zhou had been investigated for misconduct by the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Its findings could be used in court.
The CCDI had been conducting its investigation “in accordance with the law and also paying attention to evidence, so this process may be a long one, but also more serious and responsible”, he said.
Zhang said the government was taking a “comprehensive and systematic approach” to the investigation. Attaching such importance to gathering evidence reflected the spirit of “equality before the law”, he said.
He said the investigation had bolstered the public’s confidence in government efforts to promote the rule of law – the focus of the fourth party plenum last month. [Source]
The recently-concluded Fourth Plenum laid out the Party’s vision of “Socialist rule of law” in China, but did not publicly resolve Zhou’s case or dismiss him from the Party, as many expected.
As an interactive news feature from the South China Morning Post recently demonstrated, the Xi Jinping administration’s fight against corruption has been gathering momentum across the country over the past two years, especially in Sichuan, Zhou’s home base. For the Wall Street Journal, Russell Leigh Moses writes that anti-graft investigators have discovered that officials ensnared in the crackdown are lacking the basic will and commitment to do their jobs without succumbing to corrupt behavior:
But according to commentaries in the state-controlled media, Xi’s ongoing and apparently escalating crusade to punish corruption is exposing something else that all too many Chinese officials seem to be lacking: the commitment—the “courage” as some critiques have put it–to do the right sort of work.
That lack of nerve is described as a persistent problem in Sichuan, a province where anti-corruption inspectors have discovered a multitude of malfeasance and a power base of ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang, who’s also under investigation. It’s likely not the only place where graft has been thriving.
According to one lengthy account of the corruption raging in Sichuan, “the main problem found was one of governance—that some leading cadres operated at the expense of the public interest, trading jobs and promotion for money, and colluding to form a conveyor belt of interests, in which economic interests became political interests, whereby officials intervened in policy decisions on natural resources, water, electricity, land sales and government procurement, in ways that would benefit themselves and their associates.” Party officials, according to this article, “used festivals, weddings and funerals to accept bribes, and they dispensed bonuses, vehicles, and other subsidies to well-connected friends and families.”
A major source of those problems wasn’t immorality, according to the report, but that “cadres lack the will and enthusiasm to reform.” Too many officials, the article says, are “lazy, loose, preferring to float along and be dragged by others, unwilling to experiment with the new.” [Source]
Read more about Zhou Yongkang, via CDT.