Zhou Yongkang

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For the US politician whose Chinese name is Zhou Yongkang, see Charles Djou.
Zhou Yongkang
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
Member of the 17th CPC Politburo Standing Committee
In office
October 22, 2007 – November 15, 2012
general secretary Hu Jintao
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
Member of the
National People's Congress
Assumed office
March 5, 1998
Constituency Sichuan At-large (98-08)
Heilongjiang At-large (08-)
Personal details
Born December 1942 (1942-12) (age 71)
Wuxi, Jiangsu, Republic of China
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Jia Xiaoye
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 top decision-making body, and the Secretary of the Central Political and Legislative Committee between 2007 and 2012. In that position, 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 secretary 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 later 2013, Zhou has been under investigation for alleged abuse of power and corruption, though this has not yet been formally announced by the authorities.

Early life[edit]

Born in December 1942, Zhou Yongkang is a native of Wuxi, Jiangsu province. In November 1964 Zhou joined the CPC and joined geological survey work in north-east China in 1966 after the Cultural Revolution broke out.[1] He graduated from the Survey and Exploration Department of Beijing Petroleum Institute majoring in geophysical survey and exploration. As a university graduate he holds the title senior engineer, with a rank equivalent to that of professor.[2]


During the 1960s and 70s he spent most of his career in the petroleum industry. By the mid-1980s he was vice minister of the petroleum industry, and from 1996 general manager (chief executive) of the China National Petroleum Corporation, China's largest energy company.[1][3] 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.[4] 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.[1]

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,[5] though the claim's veracity has been questioned.[5] Other cables said it was "well-known" that Zhou Yongkang controlled the state monopoly of the oil sector.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8] The New York Times later reported that Zhou's status remained unchanged.[9]

Allegations of corruption[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.[10] 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.[11]

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 President and CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping is consolidating his power since coming into office 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14]

One of the charges brought 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. Chinese media reported that his drivers confessed that Zhou ordered the car crash.[15]

Zhou is reportedly being held in confinement without visitation rights in a heavily guarded facility on a military base near Baotou, Inner Mongolia.[16]

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.[17]

Personal life[edit]

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)". Zhou Bin has been under detention since December 2013 over allegations of illegal dealings in the Sichuan oil industry.[18]

Zhou Yongkang is married to 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. He was previously married to his first wife, the mother of Zhou Bin.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Jamil Anderlini (April 20, 2012). "Bo fallout threatens China's security chief". Financial Times. 
  2. ^ Biography of Zhou Yongkang. China Vitae (November 22, 2010). Retrieved on March 30, 2012.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ BBC: China's New Leaders. BBC News. Retrieved on March 30, 2012.
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ Foster, Peter (December 6, 2010). "WikiLeaks: China's Politburo a cabal of business empires". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Zhou Yongkang". Forbes.com. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bo ally gives up China security roles", Jamil Anderlini, Financial Times, May 14, 2012.
  9. ^ "China Security Chief Seems to Keep His Hold on Power", Edward Wong, The New York Times, May 19, 2012.
  10. ^ Ben Blanchard (August 30, 2013). "Former China security chief faces corruption probe: report". Reuters. 
  11. ^ Rauhala, Emily (December 22, 2013). "A Purge in Beijing? China's Former Security Czar May Face Trial". TIME. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  12. ^ Patience, Martin (December 16, 2013). "Zhou Yongkang next to fall in China corruption purge?". BBC. 
  13. ^ "Beijing Official Detained in Investigation of Former Security Chief". New York Times. February 21, 2014. 
  14. ^ "China's Corruption Purge: The Fall of Zhou Yongkang". The Daily Beast. 
  15. ^ Lee, Adrian. "China's Powerful Former Security Chief Is in All Kinds of Trouble". Yahoo News. 
  16. ^ "周永康關押內蒙基地 Zhou Yongkang is held in Inner Mongolia Military Base". Oriental Daily News. January 14, 2014. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ "Retired security tsar Zhou Yongkang's son Zhou Bin faces trial, seeks lawyer". South China Morning Post. January 10, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  19. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Xie Shijie
Communist Party of China Sichuan Secretary
Succeeded by
Zhang Xuezhong
Preceded by
Luo Gan
Secretary of CPC Central Political and Legislative Committee
Succeeded by
Meng Jianzhu
Government offices
Preceded by
Position created
Minister of Land and Resources of China
Succeeded by
Tian Fengshan
Preceded by
Jia Chunwang
Ministry of Public Security of China
Succeeded by
Meng Jianzhu
Order of precedence
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He Guoqiang
Discipline Secretary
9th Rank of the Communist Party of China
17th Politburo Standing Committee
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