Former Beijing police chief Fu Zhenghua rose swiftly up the ranks of China’s security apparatus in recent years. His selection for tasks such as the probe of former security chief Zhou Yongkang, the suppression of “Big V” social media celebrities, and the investigation of “malicious trading” after last summer’s stock market crash cemented his reputation as a trusted troubleshooter for Xi Jinping. Conspicuous appearances on armed patrols in the capital and his calls for subordinates “to ensure they take down the [terrorist] enemy with one shot” ensured a high public profile, while incurring occasional accusations of showboating.
On Friday, however, South China Morning Post’s Choi Chi-yuk reported that Fu may have passed his peak:
Fu Zhenghua, the most senior deputy minister of public security and until now a rising star in the police force, is no longer a member of the Central Politics and Law Commission, according to the commission’s official website. Fu has been succeeded at the commission by a junior deputy public security minister, Huang Ming.
[…] Widely regarded as one of the closest allies to President Xi Jinping, Fu, 61, was promoted to the deputy minister’s post in August 2013 before being promoted as a full ministerial-level official when he was given an additional post in charge of the central 610 Office, an agency responsible for social stability and cult control, last September.
[…] Fu was also seen as a rising star because he was responsible for the security for the military parade on September 3 last year to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the second world war.
[…] Fu still ranks second in the ministry but his losing his seat on the commission to Huang means the possibility of Fu taking over the helm of the public security ministry is slim. [Source]
There seems to have been little previous doubt about Fu’s standing. In an essay from a MERICS collection on Party leadership under Xi Jinping, republished at Sinocism last month, CSIS’ Christopher K. Johnson highlighted Fu as a key instrument of Xi’s efforts to “grasp tightly the key levers of control” in the wake of his signature anti-corruption crackdown:
What is abundantly clear is that Xi has used the purge to put his own trusted men in key positions. Perhaps the most notable is Fu Zhenghua, who, after being elevated from Beijing police chief to vice minister of public security in 2013, quickly has risen from that ministry’s fifth-ranking deputy slot to its first. Fu seems to be Xi’s go-to man for sensitive investigations [….] [Source]
A Sina Weibo search block on Fu’s name has been lifted, though the exact timing of that is uncertain, and searches still appear to produce selective results. Some variations on his name, including puns meaning “Fu Shakes China,” remain blocked.
Fu’s sudden displacement and uncertain future echo those of former cyberczar Lu Wei. Lu’s replacement in June prompted widespread speculation about his subsequent fortunes, but little hope for softening internet controls in his absence.