Over the weekend, Xi Jinping was reelected by the National People’s Congress to a second term as president, after amending the constitution to abolish term limits for the position. Wang Qishan was also elected Vice President and a new cabinet was named. Among those, former Beijing police chief and deputy minister of public security, Fu Zhenghua, was named Minister of Justice. Issaku Harada, Oki Nagai and Shunsuke Tabeta of Nikkei Asian Review write about the appointment:
Lawmakers have also promoted Fu Zhenghua, formerly vice-minister of public security, to minister of justice. As a public security official in Beijing, Fu played a major role in corruption investigations that felled major officials including security czar Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua, a senior aide to former President Hu Jintao.
Questions about Fu’s political future had been swirling since Guo Wengui, a Chinese business magnate living in exile in the U.S., revealed that Fu ordered an investigation into Wang Qishan’s family finances. But his new appointment suggests Fu remains in Xi’s good graces. [Source]
In 2016, the sometimes flamboyant Fu had been rising up the political ranks until he was inexplicably removed as a member of the Central Politics and Law Commission. Under Xi Jinping, Fu had headed the investigation into former security czar Zhou Yongkang, who later became the highest-level official to be ensnared in Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. He was also in charge of an investigation into “malicious trading” which led to a stock market crash and widespread investor protests in 2015 and 2016. Fu was also tasked with cracking down on Falun Gong and on high-profile “Big V” internet commentators.
Fu was Beijing police chief during the 2013 death in custody of activist Cao Shunli, who was detained while trying to fly to Geneva to join a human rights training program. A coalition of human rights groups later called on the Trump administration to sanction Fu under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allows the U.S. government to impose financial and travel restrictions on foreigners who are implicated in human rights violations.
Last year, billionaire Guo Wengui, living in New York, made a series of accusations against Fu as part of a larger effort to expose wrongdoing at the highest levels of power. He claimed, among other things, that Fu had been tasked with investigating the former corruption czar, and newly appointed Vice President, Wang Qishan. In an essay about Guo’s allegations, commentator Liang Jing wrote:
Why the authorities would want to promote such a person then becomes the question. Were they oblivious to the risks of doing so? This question is actually an old one. The authorities’ analysis is, if they don’t promote such people, they will themselves soon fall. As long as they use this vicious dog in a restricted way, keeping its function of political persecution generally separated from those of the judiciary, they can both maintain stability and limit its risks to themselves.
Under this self-deceiving logic, Fu Zhenghua, a political persecution career thug, starting with the hounding of Falun Gong, became human rights activists’ most ferocious enemy. His rise occurred as the political situation deteriorated and officialdom become ever more corrupt. This in turn made Fu ever more powerful and daring. More to the point, he got more opportunities to involve himself in high-level politics and enter the centre of power. For this brutal thug’s targets were no longer limited to powerless human rights activists and the petitioning ‘ant people’, but extended to the wealthy, to deeply influential figures and institutions. [Source]