Zhou Yongkang

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For the US politician whose Chinese name is Zhou Yongkang, see Charles Djou.
Zhou Yongkang
周永康
Zhou Yongkang.png
6th Secretary of the CPC Central Political and Legislative Committee
In office
October 22, 2007 – November 21, 2012
Deputy Wang Lequan
Meng Jianzhu
General secretary Hu Jintao
Preceded by Luo Gan
Succeeded by Meng Jianzhu
Minister of Public Security of China
In office
December 2002 – October 2007
Premier Wen Jiabao
Preceded by Jia Chunwang
Succeeded by Meng Jianzhu
Secretary of the CPC Sichuan Province Committee
In office
January 2001 – December 2002
Deputy Zhang Zhongwei
Preceded by Xie Shijie
Succeeded by Zhang Xuezhong
Personal details
Born Zhou Yuangen (周元根)
December 1942 (1942-12) (age 71)
Wuxi, Jiangsu, Republic of China
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s)
  • Wang Shuhua
  • (?–2001)
  • Jia Xiaoye
  • (2001–)
Alma mater Suzhou High School
Beijing Petroleum Institute
Occupation Oil exploration
Zhou Yongkang
Chinese 周永康

Zhou Yongkang (born December 1942) is a retired senior leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC). He was a member of the 17th Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), China's highest decision-making body, and the Secretary of the Central Political and Legislative Committee between 2007 and 2012. In that positions, Zhou oversaw China's security apparatus and law enforcement institutions, with power stretching into courts, prosecution agencies, police forces, paramilitary forces, and intelligence organs.

Zhou rose through the ranks of the Communist Party through his involvement in the oil and gas industry, starting as a technician on the Daqing oil field during the Cultural Revolution. He was at the helm of the China National Petroleum Corporation between 1996 and 1998, then became Minister of Land and Natural Resources until 1999, and subsequently Party chief of Sichuan, then China's second most populous province. Zhou was a State Councillor from 2003 to 2008 and also a member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee. He served as the Minister of Public Security from 2002 to 2007, before being promoted to the PSC.

Zhou retired at the 18th Party Congress in 2012. Since late 2013, Zhou has been under investigation for alleged abuse of power and corruption. State media announced the decision to investigate Zhou for "serious disciplinary violation" on July 29, 2014.[1] Zhou is the first Politburo Standing Committee member – and the most senior-ranked official – since the beginning of Communist rule in China to be investigated for corruption.[2]

Early life[edit]

Born Zhou Yuangen (Chinese: 周元根) in December 1942, Zhou Yongkang is a native of Xiqiantou Village (Chinese: 西前头村), Wuxi County, in Jiangsu province. Xiqiantou has some 500 years of history, and is located 18 kilometers outside of Wuxi's city proper. The majority of Xiqiantou residents were surnamed "Zhou". Zhou took on the surname of his mother because his father, whose surname was Lu, was a 'live-in son-in-law' of his maternal grandparents. Upon joining the Zhou household when he married, Zhou Yongkang's father took on his wife's surname and became known as Zhou Yisheng (Chinese: 周义生).[3] Zhou was the eldest of three sons. Zhou's family was poor; his family made a living farming and fishing the Asian swamp eel. Zhou was sent to school with the financial assistance of his family friends. In 1954, Zhou was enrolled at one of the two top middle schools in the eastern Wuxi area. It was during this period that Zhou changed his name to "Yongkang" on the advice of his teacher, because there was another person in his class with an identical name.[3]

Zhou excelled at school, and was eventually accepted to enroll at the prestigious Suzhou High School, one of the most prominent secondary schools in the Jiangnan region. Zhou had good grades and was involved in extra-curricular activities, including the school's political ideology group as well as the events promoting literacy.[3] In 1961, after obtaining stellar results on his Gaokao exams, he was admitted to the Beijing Institute of Petroleum (now China University of Petroleum) in Beijing soon after, and became the pride of his village.[3] He majored in geophysical survey and exploration.

In November 1964 Zhou became a card-carrying member of the Communist Party of China. In 1966, the Cultural Revolution ensnared Beijing's higher education institutions. Zhou was told by the authorities to "wait for an assignment" while the political struggles wreaked havoc on China's universities. He waited for a year. He joined geological survey work in north-east China in 1967, assigned to become an intern technician at factory No. 673 at the Daqing oil field.[4] In 1970, Zhou was promoted to lead the geological survey division of a local department charged with carrying out am ambitious petroleum drilling initiative set out by the Party's top leadership.[3]

Career[edit]

Oil exploration in Liaoning[edit]

In 1973, Zhou Yongkang was promoted to head the Geophysical Exploration Department of the Liaohe Petroleum Exploration Bureau, located in Panjin, Liaoning. Liaohe would eventually become one of the China National Petroleum Corporation's (CNPC) largest oil fields. Zhou was seen as a hard-working and emotionally mature presence to his colleagues; he did not drink or smoke, and would rarely speak based on script. He would reputedly talk unscripted for hours on end while keeping his colleagues engaged.[3]

At Liaohe, Zhou met Wang Shuhua (Chinese: 王淑华), a factory worker from Hebei province, whom he later married. As the Liaohe exploration team grew, Zhou eventually became responsible for over 2,300 employees in his department. His work consisted mainly of leading teams to unexplored, barren territory to conduct site surveys to assess the potential for future oil drilling. He was known to be great at maintaining good interpersonal relationships with his superiors and subordinates, and gained significant personal clout.[3] During some years, Zhou did not go back to his home in Jiangsu even during the Chinese New Year holiday period, which is a time traditionally reserved for family reunions. Instead, Zhou would visit his colleagues who were working in harsh winter conditions in remote areas.[3] Beginning in the 1970s, Zhou would gain rapid career advancement. He owed much of his career growth to his mentors from the Beijing Institute of Petroleum, who were working in executive positions at the Liaohe oil fields at the time. In particular the university's president was known to be fond of Zhou's skills and was eager to promote him. In 1983, with the director of the Liaohe Oil Field Management Bureau being transferred for a job in Beijing, Zhou was promoted to manage day-to-day affairs of the oil field. Moreover, given the oil field's prominence in the municipal affairs of the city of Panjin, Zhou became concurrently the Mayor of Panjin and the city's deputy party secretary.[3] Zhou's stint as mayor was his first major role in government.

Politics[edit]

By the mid-1980s he was vice minister of the petroleum industry, and from 1996 general manager (chief executive) of the CNPC, China's largest energy company.[4][5] In 1998 he was Minister of Land and Resources and in 1999, secretary of the Communist Party of China Sichuan Provincial Committee. During his tenure as Minister of Public Security, he was a reformer of China's policing system, aiming to create a more professional police force, even going as far as to fire several hundred police officers for drinking problems.[6] His time in Sichuan and as Public Security Minister made him noticed by the party's central authority, and in 2007 he was transferred to fill the vacancy from Luo Gan, who retired in the party's political and legislative affairs committee, and was responsible for China's courts, police, paramilitary and various domestic state security and spying agencies.[4]

Zhou (right) listens to American Admiral Thad Allen during a 2006 trip to the United States

Several leaked U.S. diplomatic cables from Wikileaks have alleged Zhou's involvement in Beijing's cyber attack against Google,[7] though the claim's veracity has been questioned.[7] Other cables said it was "well-known" that Zhou Yongkang controlled the state monopoly of the oil sector.[8]

Zhou was ranked 29th in the 2011 Forbes Magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People, with controlling interests in the oil and private security sectors.[9]

In May 2012 the Financial Times reported that Zhou had relinquished the operational control of the party's Political and Legal Affairs Commission to Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu due to his support for former Chinese politician Bo Xilai, and had lost his right to select his successor when he retires from the Politburo Standing Committee in fall 2012.[10] The New York Times later reported that Zhou's status remained unchanged.[11]

Downfall[edit]

In August 2013, the Chinese government opened up a corruption investigation into Zhou as part of a wider anti-graft campaign following Bo Xilai's trial.[12] Since then, a number of his former subordinates who were then in high-ranking positions were sacked, including Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party secretary in Sichuan, and Jiang Jiemin, former head of China Petroleum. These efforts were generally seen as part of a targeted investigation into Zhou himself.[13]

Zhou Yongkang was one of only nine members on the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, effectively the highest level of Chinese government. If he is convicted it will be the first time since the Communist party came to power almost 60 years ago that such a high-ranking official would be found guilty of corruption. This investigation, along with others recently, is yet another sign that CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping is consolidating his power since coming into office in 18th National Congress in November 2012. Zhou, the former security chief of the nation who oversaw the rapid growth of the Chinese security apparatus, controlled the police, prosecutors, courts, and intelligence agencies.[14]

The investigations into Zhou and his subordinates undertaken as of now are part of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s campaign against corruption by the party elite. However new details suggest that Xi is concerned Zhou may use his influence and power to turn various state security entities into tools for advancing his interests, and undermining the central authority of the state.[15]

Based on reports, Zhou’s family made billions of dollars by investing in the oil industry, of which Zhou headed the industries largest oil and gas company, China National Petroleum Corp. According to the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily, Zhou’s eldest son made more than USD$1.6 billion from public works in the city of Chongqing alone. He also supposedly used his father’s prominence to extort millions of dollars in protection fees from various businesses and organizations.[16]

One of the accusations against Zhou centers around the woman who is his current wife. He reportedly had an affair with her while he was still married to his previous wife. The affair was discovered and soon after his first wife died in a car crash. The overseas blog Boxun.com reports that his drivers confessed that Zhou ordered the car crash.[17]

Zhou is reportedly being held in confinement without visitation rights in a heavily guarded facility on a military base near Baotou, Inner Mongolia.[18]

In March 2014, Chinese authorities were reported to have seized assets worth at least 90 billion yuan ($14.5 billion) from Zhou's family members and associates.[19]

On July 29, 2014, state media formally announced an investigation into corruption charges against Zhou Yongkang.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Zhou Yongkang has two sons, Zhou Bin (Chinese: 周滨) and Zhou Han (Chinese: 周涵), with his first wife, whose name has been reported as Wang Shuhua (Chinese: 王淑华). After Wang died, Zhou married Jia Xiaoye (Chinese: 贾晓烨), a former reporter at CCTV-2, who is 28 years his junior. Jia is known to maintain a low profile.[21]

Zhou's son, Zhou Bin, born in 1972, was a prominent oil and gas executive. The younger Zhou was the primary shareholder and Chairman of a company called "Beijing Zhongxu Yangguang Energy Technology Holdings Ltd. (Chinese: 北京中旭阳光能源科技股份有限公司, abbr. Zhongxu)". Zhou Bin has been under detention since December 2013 over allegations of illegal dealings in the Sichuan oil industry.[22] The younger Zhou is married to Chinese-American Huang Wan (Chinese: 黄婉), whom he met while studying oil and gas exploration in Texas.[23] Huang's mother, Zhan Minli (Chinese: 詹敏利), held a stake in a number of companies with business dealings with China National Petroleum. Zhan Minli lives in southern California.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zhou Yongkang investigated for serious disciplinary violation. Xinhua (July 29, 2014). Retrieved on July 29, 2014.
  2. ^ Huang, Cary (29 July 2014). "Xi Jinping boosts clout with Zhou Yongkang takedown, but what next?". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "回顾周永康的青春岁月; Revisiting the times of Zhou Yongkang's youth". Caixin via Sina.com. July 29, 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Jamil Anderlini (April 20, 2012). "Bo fallout threatens China's security chief". Financial Times. 
  5. ^ Hu Jintao, Hu Jin Tao, China who's who, who's who in china, China's Celebrities, Famous Chinese. China Today. Retrieved on March 30, 2012.
  6. ^ BBC: China's New Leaders. BBC News. Retrieved on March 30, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Glanz, James (December 4, 2010). "China's Battle with Google: Vast Hacking by a China Fearful of the Web". New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  8. ^ Foster, Peter (December 6, 2010). "WikiLeaks: China's Politburo a cabal of business empires". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Zhou Yongkang". Forbes.com. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Bo ally gives up China security roles", Jamil Anderlini, Financial Times, May 14, 2012.
  11. ^ "China Security Chief Seems to Keep His Hold on Power", Edward Wong, The New York Times, May 19, 2012.
  12. ^ Ben Blanchard (August 30, 2013). "Former China security chief faces corruption probe: report". Reuters. 
  13. ^ Rauhala, Emily (December 22, 2013). "A Purge in Beijing? China's Former Security Czar May Face Trial". TIME. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  14. ^ Patience, Martin (December 16, 2013). "Zhou Yongkang next to fall in China corruption purge?". BBC. 
  15. ^ "Beijing Official Detained in Investigation of Former Security Chief". New York Times. February 21, 2014. 
  16. ^ "China's Corruption Purge: The Fall of Zhou Yongkang". The Daily Beast. 
  17. ^ "Drivers Confessed: Zhou Yongkang Murdered His Ex-Wife". BoXun News. 
  18. ^ "周永康關押內蒙基地 Zhou Yongkang is held in Inner Mongolia Military Base". Oriental Daily News. January 14, 2014. 
  19. ^ Benjamin Kang-lim; Ben Blanchard (March 30, 2014). "China seizes $14.5 billion assets from family, associates of ex-security chief – sources". Reuters. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  20. ^ Wen, Philip (30 July 2014). "Xi Jinping's purge claims the biggest scalp yet: Zhou Yongkang". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Apple Daily (syndicated). "Zhou Yongkang's Current Wife is not related to Jiang (周永康现任夫人北大毕业相貌平平 与江无关(图))". Wenxuecity. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang's son Zhou Bin faces trial, seeks lawyer". South China Morning Post. January 10, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  23. ^ "周滨的三只“白手套” (The Three White Gloves of Zhou Bin)". Caixin. January 30, 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  24. ^ "Investigating Family’s Wealth, China’s Leader Signals a Change". The New York Times. April 19, 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Xie Shijie
Communist Party of China Sichuan Secretary
1999–2002
Succeeded by
Zhang Xuezhong
Preceded by
Luo Gan
Secretary of CPC Central Political and Legislative Committee
2007–2012
Succeeded by
Meng Jianzhu
Government offices
Preceded by
Position created
Minister of Land and Resources
1998–1999
Succeeded by
Tian Fengshan
Preceded by
Jia Chunwang
Minister of Public Security
2002–2007
Succeeded by
Meng Jianzhu
Order of precedence
Preceded by
He Guoqiang
Discipline Secretary
9th Rank of the Communist Party of China
17th Politburo Standing Committee
Succeeded by
none